Sauaso Sue fighting for his NRL life
Off-contract Wests Tigers prop Sauaso Sue has weathered a series of unwanted footballing firsts but is still weighing up his NRL future as he chases a maiden finals berth.
Dropped to the Intrust Super Premiership for the first time in his six years at the Tigers, Sue has also never gone so deep into a season without a deal for the following year.
The 26-year-old Samoan international has been linked with a move to western Sydney rivals Canterbury in 2019.
When asked about his future on Wednesday, Sue said: "I haven't signed anything, I'm still negotiating."
Demoted to the second-tier squad twice this season (playing rounds 1-4, then 12 and 14 for Wests Magpies), Sue admits the uncertainty got to him.
"My value's going down each ISP game I'm playing, it was playing on my mind," Sue said.
"But you've just got to keep positive, turn up game day, and be ready to play your best footy so that's it.
"It was very tough. I was really emotional. That was actually the first time since I've debuted that I played reserve grade in six years, that was new to me.
"[I was] angry a little bit at myself, I just started questioning everything. I'm happy that I have good people around me, my wife and kids just kept my mind off footy for as long as it did and I just let my game do the talking.
"This is the first time in my career that I've had this uncertainty this late in the season but I'm just focused on playing good footy and trying to stay in the NRL to be honest."
The arrival of big-name bookends Russell Packer and Ben Matulino have helped lift the Tigers into contention for finals football, something Sue has never experienced in 111 NRL outings.
At the same time, their addition at Concord Oval has pushed Sue to the fringe of Ivan Cleary's first-choice 17.
The softly-spoken prop says he has not discussed where his future lies with Cleary, but insists the coach's critiques have made him a more rounded footballer.
"He's actually improved my game and pushed me out of my comfort zone and that's a credit to his coaching," Sue said.
"What the coach says you've just got to do it. You don't want to create any more tension so whatever he said I just worked on.
"[It was] just overall stuff, just footy stuff - like body language under fatigue that was probably the biggest thing with repeat efforts. Just footy stuff, nothing out of the blue.
"He just gave me feedback on stuff to work on and I did that. That's why I'm playing NRL now. He's pretty straight forward so you know what you need to do and I really enjoy Ivan's coaching."