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In His Words: Roy Asotasi

Words: Roy Asotasi

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Former Rabbitohs Captain Roy Asotasi told our Members last week about his career at the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the pride he held in his role as Captain.

Members received this content last week in our Member Zone

I started off as a young boy from a small town in Auckland, New Zealand. My career kind of started when I made the move to Australia at the end of 1999. Back then I actually came through the Bulldogs system. It took me a while, I didn’t really debut until 2002 so I kind of had to work my way up.

From there, I made my debut against Canberra in Round 24. I remember it just being a big buzz and everything happened so fast and I loved every moment of it. From there I played a handful of games in 2002 and 2003 and it wasn’t until 2004 that I became a regular first grader.

In 2004, we won the premiership with the Dogs which was pretty awesome. Everyone always asks me what it was like but it was kind of like a blur because everything that happened that year was just so crazy. But for me I just thought: “How cool is this! This is what first grade is like, winning premierships all the time.” But after that I realised it was a lot harder and I was actually pretty fortunate to win one in 2004.

So I ended up spending five years there at the Bulldogs then I made the big transition to Souths in 2007. They had just recently signed over to Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes á Court in 2006 and they were looking at recruitment. Jason Taylor had only just been appointed as the Head Coach so it was a tough position for me to move across after winning a premiership and being one of the mainstay players at the Bulldogs but we had a few players like Nigel Vagana, Dean Widders and David Kidwell and we were all pretty tight at the time. We spoke about jumping ship and creating some kind of legacy at Souths. In our mindset we thought they weren’t doing too well, there is only one way and it’s up so it probably made my move a bit easier to come across.

I enjoyed every minute of it and it was all new to me at the same time. My first day that I got there, it was nerve-wracking because I just didn’t know anyone and I was used to walking into a team environment that had handshakes here and there, but I was the new marquee player and for me it was definitely nerve-wracking to create that whole new friendship and getting to know people again. But the boys were pretty cool at the time.

I remember Jason Taylor asked me if I wanted to be Captain. I was just a young kid coming from the Dogs at 25 years of age and I had never pictured myself being Captain. I was umming and ahhing about it. It was just after preseason in my first season so I didn’t give him a decision on the day but went home to think about it. About a week later, I decided to take it on. I had Peter Cusack helping me along the way so I knew he would help.

Although I had just wanted to go and play football I ended up doing the Captaincy role for five years and then we had the Co-Captains when Madge (Michael Maguire) first arrived. I enjoyed every minute of it, leading the Red and Green. The thing I found in my time was that the Members were really appreciative of me coming across and supported me all the way through. They had a lot of tough times and they saw a lot of light when a lot of us came across like Craig Wing, Greg Inglis, Sam Burgess, etc. So I think they started to see us start creating a culture and building it up. It took a while though. There were a few changes with guys like Jason Taylor and John Lang and it wasn’t until Madge came along that we started creating that real culture that you see today.

I spent seven years at the Club and my most memorable time is hard to pinpoint but if anything it was being the Captain. As much as I was reluctant to take that role on, I felt like I really had to mature a lot and found times that I had that young kid mentality and I had to grow and set a good example. I knew I could handle the leadership role and set a really good example for the other players and I think that really helped me throughout my career in regards to my time at the Rabbitohs, being able to be sensible and try and lead by example and it’s one of the greatest things I enjoyed.

That then led into also captaining the Kiwis the same year I was at the Rabbitohs. Again, the same thing happened where I was a bit hesitant at the start and I always used to think: “Am I the right person for the job? Do I want to do this?” I knew the amount of responsibility that goes into being a Captain. So I can kind of thank the Rabbitohs for helping to groom me to be able to take that role on because it felt like I had a bit of practice along the way and made it pretty easy to step into that role.

It then came to 2013 and I guess it was at a tough time when I had to make the move in regards to salary cap with the Rabbitohs. I didn’t want to leave at the time but there are always new players coming through and upgrades and there was also an opportunity with the Warrington Wolves. They were like a sister club to Souths with the Return to Redfern game against Warrington. So there was a good little relationship there and I’ve always said through my time that I want to try and have a go at the Super League and do a bit of traveling. The timing was right but I just wish the timing was the following year. It was a tough decision but I still followed the boys from the other side so to see them win that premiership was awesome. I loved that they got there but was disappointed I wasn’t there. I had goals while I was at the Rabbitohs to get there and said I have seven years to get a premiership but unfortunately they got it in eight.

I did my two years in Warrington and enjoyed it. My first year was pretty tough getting adjusted to a whole new culture, surroundings and mates. I was away from the majority of my family but we knew it wasn’t going to be forever.

I was close to retiring in 2014 but after a trip back to Australia and support from my wife Celeste, I went back refreshed but then made the decision to hang up the boots half way through 2015 because my mind wasn’t in the game anymore.

 just wanted to get back to Australia and enjoy more family time. They had supported and followed me around for so long so I decided it was time. A lot of people asked me if I would play on but I didn’t miss anything about the game. I just wanted to watch everything from afar and that’s really where I am at now.

I was fortunate enough to have an F45 gym that I was able to come back to. It was a no brainer for myself when the opportunity to run an F45 studio came along because I naturally by habit was used to doing so much training and it really made sense to be able to be involved in the health and fitness industry.

It wasn’t until halfway through 2016 that I got back involved with the Club and jumped at the chance to work with the Club that I spent a lot of my time with, captained and meant a lot to me.

I love being involved as an Ambassador for Souths.