Dragons forward Tyrell Fuimaono has outlined the work he has done to change his tackling technique in a bid to avoid further disciplinary issues after he returns from suspension in Sunday’s match against Wests Tigers.
Fuimaono will make his first NRL appearance of the year after serving a five-match ban for a hip drop during St George Illawarra’s pre-season trial with Parramatta and spending a further two weeks playing NSW Cup.
The 26-year-old was recalled to the Dragons side after second-rower Jaydn Su’A suffered an ankle injury in an incident Fuimaono believes was similar to the one which led to his suspension but he has vowed to mend his ways.
"I haven't been doing these things intentionally, but they're still costing me games and time on the sideline," Fuimaono said ahead of the WIN Stadium clash with the Tigers.
"I've made a conscious effort through this five-week period to try and amend that so that hopefully I don’t find myself in that position again.”
Fuimaono was suspended last year for a hip drop on former Rabbitohs centre Dane Gagai, and also served a five-match ban after being sent off for a high shot on Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen during Magic Round.
The Indigenous All Stars representative, who is eligible to represent Samoa in the upcoming Pacific Test, said he had been previously focused on getting the ball carrier to the ground as quickly as possible.
However, he has been training to hold the tackled player up and avoid the risk of a hip drop.
Fuimaono facing long ban for tackle on Dunster
“I have just repetitively practiced over the five weeks,” he said. “It has just been enough repetition so that habit is pushed to the back and a new habit is developed.
“Before there was an emphasis on getting guys to the ground. That was a win and I found myself, if it was a one-on-one, just pulling them to the ground by any means.
“That resulted in them getting in a bad position, or me pulling down on their legs, but now, with the game being a bit faster, two-man tackles are a lot more common.
“Finishing standing up is a lot more popular, so it's just not feeling the rush to drag someone to the ground but being content at controlling and holding them in a standing up position.
“That completely eliminates the chance of me pulling onto someone’s leg."
After completing his suspension two weeks ago, Fuimaono returned in the NSW Cup and has been waiting for an opportunity to play NRL.
The injury to Su’A after a tackle by Sydney Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargeaves in the 14-12 ANZAC Day win at the SCG opened the door for his return but also sparked frustration after the veteran Kiwi avoided a charge.
“I do feel like it is a bit unfair at times but I have done my time and I hope to put that behind me. I have done a lot of work trying to correct my tackling technique,” he said.
“I wasn’t really kicking stones about having to play reserve grade for the last two weeks because five weeks does take a toll on your body.
“I was trying to get as many minutes as I could and just conditioning my body so that if an opportunity does arise to get my foot back in there I can hopefully stay there.
“I am very excited to get back and try to find some form again and end the season with the team with a bang.”