Pulu set to answer SOS call from Warriors
Leivaha Pulu can't wait to return to lock horns with his former Titans team-mates as he answers an urgent call of duty from the New Zealand Warriors following 14 weeks on the sidelines that he says was both a blessing and "torture".
The 28-year-old back-rower was initially named on the Warriors' extended bench for the round 20 clash at Cbus Stadium but with Adam Blair suspended and Tohu Harris (knee) ruled out along with hooker Issac Luke (calf), the visitors are suddenly short of go-forward muscle.
Those notable absences should open the door for Pulu on the interchange bench, with Bunty Afoa set to start in Harris's absence.
Last week Pulu made his comeback from a serious foot injury with a 60-minute effort in the Warriors' Intrust Super Premiership loss to Wyong, another of the Tongan international's former sides.
Showing glimpses of the tearaway form that helped the Warriors start the 2018 season with five straight wins, he had 10 runs for 76 metres and made 26 tackles without a miss.
Pulu said it was tough to sit on the sidelines for 12 rounds.
"Just when the brothers go to war, not being part of it," he said.
"It's easy being part of the good times but, say we had a loss, you want to help out in every possible way. And plus learning to walk again. I was in the cast for about two to three weeks and yeah, it was torture."
Fortunately, Pulu had his faith to keep in strong.
"I've been blessed," he said.
"Through my faith and through my walk, you know everyone goes through their seasons and I believe my season [the recovery from injury] that I went through was ploughing season and that was the time where I had to work the hardest, and I believe I've put myself in a good situation right now, being in the pecking order of the 17.
"I had time away with my family, my body was well rested and [now] it's the later part of the season, I believe it's time to really step it up and do my bit for the team.
"I give all my glory to the man above just for the stability in my walk and just to be amongst the boys. I love it, I love being here, I love being around the boys, it's a good bunch of boys, it's just awesome."
Pulu made his NRL debut for the Titans against the Newcastle Knights in round one of the 2016 premiership and went on to make 45 of a possible 49 appearances for the Gold Coast before joining the Warriors this season.
He started for the Warriors where he left off for the Titans, appearing in each of the Auckland-based club's five straight wins to start the season and scoring a try in a 30-6 thrashing of the Roosters in round four.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney loves Pulu's aggressive edge but the player himself knows he has to keep an even keel.
"At the end of the day I think I've just got to come in and do my part," he said.
"I don't want to be too aggressive and leave a big hole in the defence line. So if I can come on and bring energy wherever I can, even if it means in a recovery session or warm-up or whatever, just to get the boys buzzing.
"The boys have done really well. They've played some really amazing footy but it's upwards and onwards from here."