Fotu-Moala not scared of 'gentle' Hancock any more
Once they were warriors on opposing teams. Now they are sisters making history together.
Brisbane forward and Kiwi Ferns international Teuila Fotu-Moala was once petrified of legendary Jillaroos prop Steph Hancock when they'd line up against each other in Test matches.
Now they are forging a close bond together leading into Brisbane's kick-off to the Holden NRL Women's Premiership.
The duo warmed up for Sunday's clash with St George Illawarra at Suncorp Stadium with a 48-14 trial win over the PNG Orchids last week, the first time they'd played together
Watch Fotu-Moala play her brand of uncompromising, tough footy and you'd think the back-rower wouldn't scare easily but lining up against dual World Cup winner Hancock was an exception. That's all changed now though.
"It is funny because when I started playing Kiwis I looked at Steph as being real scary," Fotu-Moala said.
"She's huge, she's tall and she's got a build on her and I thought she was not approachable but she is the nicest person you will ever meet. She's a gentle giant and it is awesome to be on the same side as her.
"She was my right-side prop [against PNG] and she was right next to me. She would always just say 'I've got you… love you'. That real soft touch is just how she talks and how she is."
Fotu-Moala is one of the real characters of the women's game and her smile flashes non-stop off the field, although on it is a different story.
"I'm friendly. I like to think that I am. I try and smile as much as I can to give off a friendly vibe, but on the field I switch it on and play as hard as I can," she said.
Fotu-Moala, the 2017 World Cup player of the series, is known for her vigorous defence. Darren Lockyer coined her nickname "The Jukebox" because, as he put it, "the hits just keep coming".
That is not the only weapon in her arsenal and against PNG it was her ball running, late feet at the line and offload that caused plenty of havoc.
"I always try to work on my attack more than my defence because my defence is just how I've always played the game," she said.
"I don't do much defence, because they know not to run this way and it is so frustrating, not to get any tackles in, so I guess I use all that unused energy to attack."
The historic first match by a Broncos women's team last Sunday gave Fotu-Moala clarity about why she left New Zealand to play with the club.
"I've played twice at Suncorp and lost twice so I was really nervous," she said.
"It was an awesome feeling running out and we had our families at the guard of honour, and it just reminded me of who we are playing for.
"I think we have a perfect mix of Jillaroos and Kiwis. It is has always been a dream to be alongside some of these Jilllaroos like Steph Hancock, a legend of the game. It is because of people like Steph that we have games against Papua New Guinea at Suncorp Stadium and why we have the NRLW running."
Fotu-Moala, her partner and four-month old daughter Kaya have relocated from New Zealand for the competition.
"It has been difficult, just being at training and not having that family support around us," Fotu-Moala said of the transition.
"We are young parents so we do need that external support from our parents to keep us on track.
"I come home from training and bubba is crying and you just don't have enough energy…that's when you just want to pass her on to her grandparents but they are not there, but the [Broncos] club has been awesome and done everything to cater for what we need. They've supplied car seats and everything we need for the baby and that has helped hugely so I am able to focus on my footy."