Moses Suli has credited a text message from Manly premiership winner John Hopoate for inspiring his determination to make the most of what he admits is his "last shot" at being an NRL player.
The 19-year-old Tongan international was offered a lifeline by the Sea Eagles after being sacked by Wests Tigers and Canterbury for failing to commit to training and a poor attitude.
Suli, who played 16 Telstra Premiership games for the Tigers last year, debuted for Manly at centre in last Sunday's loss to the Sydney Roosters.
Hopoate, who knows all about last chances himself following a playing career that included both notoriety and representative honours, was a mentor to Suli in a Tonga team camp last year.
The teenager was emphatic when asked what and who had inspired him to make the most of his Manly opportunity after he signed on a one-year deal.
"Hoppa has helped me a lot," Suli told NRL.com.
"He messaged me telling me to do whatever I can and the best I can. He said 'don't give up'.
"That was big for me when I saw that. Here I am today and I hope he is happy.
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"I know Hoppa through Tongan camp and I played with his son … his name is John Hopoate as well."
Suli, who is set to play centre for Manly against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, said he was "so happy" about his Manly lifeline and would not take it for granted.
"I was in a bad headspace after getting axed by Wests [Tigers] and Canterbury," he said.
"In my head, I wanted to stop playing but some of the boys I was hanging around with guided me, and one of them is Manese Fainu. He brought me here to Manly, then I spoke to Trent Barrett and he gave me a shot.
"Trent said to me that I can’t stuff up. I know this is my last shot. I'll be putting my best foot forward to make the squad every week and repay his faith."
Fainu is playing hooker for the Blacktown Workers side and, along with Addin Fonua-Blake, gives Suli a lift to and from training each day from western Sydney.
Suli now weighs 113kg after blowing out to 124kg in the pre-season and has targeted losing another five kilos to get back to last year's playing weight.
He said he was physically up to the challenge of NRL training but previously had an attitude problem.
I was in a bad headspace after getting axed by Wests [Tigers] and CanterburyManly centre Moses Suli
"I guess I was just too lazy," he said.
"I didnt commit to what I wanted to do. Nowadays I've realised how much I lost and I want to do everything to get back up there.
"My headspace is heaps good now. I’m just happy to be around the boys and have little bonding sessions. I can’t wait to play."
Moses said being contracted for one year was just what he needed to get the best out of himself after losing a reported $1.3 million three-year deal with Canterbury.
"That is a good thing because it makes things tougher for me," he said.
Sea Eagles forward Shaun Lane said Suli had backed up his words with actions.
“It is good to see him put in all the hard work to get where he is,” Lane told NRL.com.
"Here at Manly he hasn't complained and he’s put his head down and deserves his spot."
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