Auva’a Ready to Repay the Faith
Kirisome Auva'a wants to repay South Sydney for the faith they showed him during the toughest period of his life.
Auva'a was suspended indefinitely for an incident in 2014, missing the first 22 rounds of the 2015 NRL season.
The 24-year-old was handed a two-year good behaviour bond and fined $3,000, but the club stood by its young centre, eventually re-signing him until the end of 2018.
"It's one of those situations where they could have left me hanging," Auva'a said of the club's decision to stand by him.
"I pretty much owe my footy career to this club because they stuck with me since day one and gave me a job."
It wasn't a simple return to the NRL for Auva'a, who had to bide his time in the NSW Cup before the NRL was satisfied that he had been fully rehabilitated.
"It was all part of the process," Auva'a told NRL.com.
"I had to go play for North Sydney Bears before I could play for Souths. I just had to knuckle down and work through that process and come through the other end."
Auva'a isn't the only player to have been handed a lifeline by the Rabbitohs, with teammates Paul Carter and Dane Nielsen also given second chances by the club.
"We've got a really tight-knit group here, and whatever happens on the outside stays on the outside," the centre said.
"When we come to work, it's all about work and getting better every day as athletes and people."
The strongly-built centre is considerably leaner than last year, and is desperate to line up for Souths when the new season kicks off against the Roosters in Round 1.
That will be a challenge itself, with several players - including his cousin Hymel Hunt - battling for the vacant right centre position.
"I have trimmed down a bit, which is good for me. I weighed in at 99 kilos so the goal now is to maintain that weight. I know if I do that, it'll help me and my performance," the 2014 premiership winner told NRL.com.
"We've got a lot of outside backs competing for spots compared to previous years, so there's a lot of competition vying for that right centre spot that Dylan Walker left.
"In saying that, it's good for us as a whole team that a lot of guys are competing for one spot."
While he hasn't even been guaranteed a spot in first-grade, Auva'a has revealed a discussion with coach Michael Maguire has him aiming for even higher honours in 2016.
"Me and 'Madge' (Maguire) have spoken a lot over this off-season, and he challenged me to play rep footy and that's what I'm working towards now. I've just got to make that Round 1 team and work from there," the Samoan-born-centre said.
"It's back on the radar. Obviously it didn't happen the past two years due to certain circumstances, but it's a clean slate now, so that's the goal this year."
This story first appeared on NRL.com.