GEORGE Taafuli didn’t know anyone, was running late from work and didn’t have time to call in home before training to pick up some socks and boots.
So he did what he was used to doing in his hometown of South Auckland and arrived at Port Macquarie Sharks training in bare feet.
“Everyone was looking at me and laughing, but it was how we used to do things back home,” Taafuli said.
By the end of the season, the quietly-spoken Taafuli has become an important player in the Sharks run to this year’s Group 3 reserve grade grand final.
A concreter by trade, Taafuli made the long trip east from Perth for personal reasons and admitted he had fallen in love with Port Macquarie since arriving.
“My father-in-law lives in Port so he got in touch with me and it was originally just to check it out and see how things went, but a few months later I’m still here,” he said.
Everyone was looking at me and laughing, but it was how we used to do things back home.Port Macquarie Sharks front-rower George Taafuli
“It’s a nice place, it’s quiet and you get a lot of time to yourself.”
Taafuli spends time travelling to Hallidays Point, Taree and Wingham and despite Taree City president Mal Dixon’s best efforts, the front-rower decided to stay at the Sharks.
“I had one training session with the Sharks and haven’t looked back since because I didn’t want to travel down there all the time,” he said.
The Sharks giant will have an important role to play on Sunday against a Wingham side which will field a handful of regular first graders.
But after knocking off minor premiers Port City last weekend, Taafuli said the Sharks were quietly confident.
The boys showed a lot of heart to get over the Breakers last weekend; it was a gutsy effort.George Taafuli
“The boys showed a lot of heart to get over the Breakers last weekend; it was a gutsy effort,” he said.
“If we do a similar thing against these lads from Wingham we should be able to get the job done.”
While Taafuli is only new to the Sharks setup this season, he is aware of the importance of going back-to-back on Sunday.
“It’s been spoken about for sure,” he said.
“It’s the fourth year they’ve made the grand final and have won it two years in a row, so there is a bit of pressure, but we have the boys to do it.”
The reserve grade decider kicks off at 1.10pm at Regional Stadium.