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Hasler expects Fonua-Blake to excel

Des Hasler stares down the camera and tells Manly Sea Eagles fans just what he expects prop Addin Fonua-Blake to produce in the 2019 Telstra Premiership season.

"I think you're going to see a really big season, a break-out season for Addin. He's really developing into a top-line front rower," Hasler told the Sea Eagles club website in a video interview this week.

"There is just something about Addin Fonua-Blake who's only so young … but already represented his nation being Tonga."

In truth Fonua-Blake has also represented New Zealand in the 2017 World Cup, but more on that later.

The Hasler praise was probably meant to prod Fonua-Blake into pushing himself that little bit more once again.

From 2017 to the 2018 season, he doubled his tackle-breaks, post-contact metres and off-loads.

He is into just his fourth year of NRL after turning 23 in the off-season. He also weighs 118kg and stands at 190cm.

Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake.
Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

"Same job just different year for me," Fonua-Blake said ahead of this week's round one meeting with the Wests Tigers on Saturday.

"I want to perform as best I can and Dessie has spent a lot of time this pre-season with me helping me and tipping me up on things I need to work on.

"I'm still really young and have got a lot to learn. I'm not where I want to be at the moment – still building towards being the best I can – but hopefully I'm taking steps in the right direction.

"The stats are going the right way so I'm looking forward to doing even better this year."

His front-row partner Marty Taupau is in the New Zealand national team and on Saturday at Leichhardt Oval he meets a few more Kiwis in Ben Matulino, Russell Packer and Elijah Taylor.

But after switching to Tonga in 2018, Fonua-Blake is not going back to black.

"It's not who I like better it's just what feels good for me," he said.

"I loved my time with the Kiwis and really enjoyed it. It was a big platform and step for me.

"But putting on the Tonga jersey was a different feeling. I felt more at home.

Addin Fonua-Blake (left) and Tongan teammate Jason Taumaulolo after beating Samoa in 2018.
Addin Fonua-Blake (left) and Tongan teammate Jason Taumaulolo after beating Samoa in 2018. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"I've played with Russell and played against Matulino a couple of times. He's one of the best hitters in the game. It will be a really good battle up front. I love challenges like that."

The other challenge for 2019 is to get Manly's name back up in lights after finishing 15th.

"It was a really disappointing year for the team we had and the effort we put in," Fonua-Blake said.

"We remember how it hurt last year and we don't want that feeling again this year."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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