Written by Joshua Dean
Re-signing Eliesa Katoa until the end of the 2024 season could be one of the greatest moves the Warriors have made in recent times. He has a bright future in rugby league, with his first two NRL games proving that he could become a star for the Auckland based club.
At just 20 years of age, Katoa was arguably the Warriors best player in the opening two rounds, against the Newcastle Knights and the Canberra Raiders. He made his NRL debut off the bench, running for an incredible 144 metres and 50 post-contact metres in just 52 minutes. This earned him a starting spot in Round two, where he impressed, even more, running 157 metres and 60 post-contact metres, as well as breaking four tackles.
The thing that sets him apart from former talented junior Warriors is his attitude, something others could learn from. Katoa was born and raised in Tonga and was a shining light in Tongan Rugby Union. He moved to New Zealand at the age of 17 to enrol at Tamaki College, on a Rugby Scholarship. His size and skill allowed him to dominate New Zealand Secondary School Rugby which caught the eye of the Warriors.
It wasn’t just his skill that impressed Warriors management, it was also his selfless attitude.
“He’s dedicated, professional and has a wonderful attitude to life. An hour after our first trial match against the Storm, he was still in the changing room, sweeping the floor and picking up rubbish. They are the kind of people we want to attract to our club,” Warriors CEO Cameron George told Newshub.
Everybody that has met Katoa speaks very highly of him. Unlike many other professional sportspeople, he doesn’t play for the fame or the accolades, he plays for his family and his mother.
Rookie Eliesa Katoa secured until 2024 📝🔒
— Vodafone Warriors (@NZWarriors) May 14, 2020
It is obvious that the 20-year-old has talent, but it’s his perspective towards life is incredible for a person so young. Many former Warriors youngsters have had the skill, however, have not been mentally ready for the NRL. It is remarkable that Katoa only just started playing Rugby League last year, having always been a Union player.
He is still learning the ins and outs of the game and gaining match experience is vital to his development but the Warriors have struck early, securing him for another four years.
If he realises his potential, Eliesa Katoa could be a scary thought for rival NRL clubs for years to come.