2017 Top 10: Big Hits
Sam Tagataese insists his best football is still ahead of him after the Brisbane Broncos came through with a deal for 2018 during the early stages of pre-season work.
The 31-year-old Samoan international brings 168 NRL games of experience to the table and has arrived at Red Hill at just the right time for the Broncos following the departures of Adam Blair and Herman Ese’ese.
Tagataese, who won a premiership with the Sharks in 2016, had a chuckle as he told NRL.com how his plans were not unfolding as he had hoped at the end of last season.
''I was off contract as soon as the season finished and got the opportunity to play in the World Cup for Samoa,'' he said.
''I was going to use that as a driver hopefully to get some interest from other clubs but it didn't work out that way because I got a skin condition early in the camp and missed the first two games.
''Then I got to play against Scotland, and obviously that game didn’t go too well [a 14-14 draw] so things weren’t going to plan.''
Tagataese then called his manager to ask what was happening.
''There was some interest and we were waiting on the Titans and the Warriors when at the end of that same week the Broncos said that a spot had opened up and they would love to have me,'' he said.
''I was at the Sharks for seven years and created some great memories there, especially winning the premiership, but now I am looking forward to a fresh start up here and tapping into something I've never tapped into before.
''I'm going to be digging deep within myself. I'm 31 but I feel as though I still have some better football in me and now it’s time produce for the new colours.
''The Broncos brand just speaks for itself. It is a first-class club and everyone here has been very welcoming.''
Tagataese used the word ''grateful'' on several occasions to explain his move to Brisbane, one that also suits his family situation.
''In a way it is a surprise but in another way I am just very grateful for this opportunity, and to play under Wayne Bennett as well,'' he said.
''An opportunity has opened up here and being a man of God I always had the faith and belief that he would provide for me.
''Brisbane is where my missus [Anastasia] is from. Her parents live here and the majority of her family are here as well.''