Tino Fa'asuamaleaui has revealed that he knocked back the opportunity to become the Dolphins’ first major signing in the belief that the Titans were building towards a premiership.
Fa'asuamaleaui admitted it was flattering to be personally chased by seven-time premiership coach Wayne Bennett to be a marquee player for the Dolphins but he didn’t want to leave the Gold Coast and has committed to the club until 2026.
“When you have got the world’s best coach calling you and having meetings it is very hard to knock that back,” Fa'asuamaleaui said.
“I have a lot of respect for him and it was good to be able to talk to him but I just see that there is a lot of potential here on the Gold Coast, especially with the young boys that we have.”
Bennett told the 21-year-old that he was confident the Dolphins would be successful when they join the Telstra Premiership in 2023 but Fa'asuamaleaui was happy playing under Justin Holbrook and signed a four-year contract extension.
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The Queensland Origin forward believes the Titans can win a premiership within that period and wants to help achieve the first title for a Gold Coast team.
“Wayne just said he is going to build something special at the club and it is hard to knock back because he is such a great coach and he has had a lot of success,” Fa'asuamaleaui said.
“It was tempting but I am happy with my decision and I am going to work as hard as I can to build this club, with all the other boys too and they will do the same, and hopefully we will hold the trophy up one day.
“It is so hard to win a premiership, but we have got the talent there and we have got the hard work there.
“I think it is closer than it actually seems. We all want to finish up with a premiership ring and being a champion so we are going to work as hard as we can.
“If it is a year, two years or even more, we are willing to do the hard work so we can get a ring one day. You are not playing NRL if you don’t have those goals.”
Family was also a factor in Fa'asuamaleaui’s decision and he is enjoying training alongside younger brother Iszac, who is the club’s development squad.
However, Fa'asuamaleaui insisted that the captaincy was not discussed – although he is considered a leader and has aspirations to skipper the team in the future.
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“Obviously one day when I am a bit more mature and a bit more experienced, I would love to take it with two hands but at the moment I really want to improve my game,” he said.
“There are a lot of things I need to improve first and I really want the club and myself, and everyone, to really improve on their games.
“Justin has been teaching me a lot and it has been good. I want to build something with Justin and better each other. We are close and we are only going to get closer.”