Test hitman accepts awkward Broncos assignment
RUGBY LEAGUE: If Sam Tagataese does the job Brisbane have recruited him for then he will likely be excess to requirements in 2019, which places the former Sharks prop in a difficult position.
Signed to a one-year deal in December, the 31-year-old Samoan international is the second-oldest of a Broncos squad that has undergone a dramatic generational shift and nowhere is that more evident than in the club's engine room.
The front-row partners predicted to line up in Round 1 against the Dragons are 26-year-old Korbin Sims and 22-year-old Matt Lodge with plenty of young middle forwards such as Joe Ofahengaue, George Fai, Tevita Pangai Jnr, Jaydn Su'a, Patrick Carrigan and Payne Haas waiting in the wings.
Already eyeing off a mentoring role in the game when his career comes to a close, Tagataese is first and foremost focused on forcing his way into the Broncos' best 17 but knows there is an off-field role to also fulfil.
"It's like going into a new school but coming in I thought, You're not starting school again, you've actually got experience," Tagataese told foxsports.com.au.
"For me it's sharing that with the boys now. That comes down to accountability and my responsibility now as a player of 10 years is to help this club.
"Obviously the first thing I must do is make myself available to play good footy but then help the younger boys.
"Looking at the crew here at the Broncos they're definitely young.
"There are a lot of young players and I'm happy to help them wherever they need help and just offer them guidance of what to do on the field and especially off the field if they have any issues."
Tagataese's arrival in Brisbane represents something of a completion of his NRL journey having finished his schooling in the Queensland capital when he was contracted by the Melbourne Storm as a 16-year-old from Wellington in New Zealand and linked with their feeder club, Norths Devils.
He was 20 when he made his NRL debut for the Storm in Round 4, 2007 and had some simple advice for the batch of Broncos big boys ready to make their mark in the top grade.
"Listen and obey," said the veteran of 168 games in the top grade and four Tests for Samoa.
"It comes down to a little bit of common sense as well and to really be open. Don't be afraid to talk, be open.
"For them it will take them time to learn and experience that as they transition into the NRL."
Although there were more lucrative offers for Tagataese to continue his career overseas the hard-running front-rower said the advice of his wife, Ana, opened up the opportunity for a return to Brisbane.
"There was offers from overseas but we opted to take a punt and try and get a club here," explained Tagataese, who also attracted interest from the Titans and Warriors.
"We understood that we were going to have to sacrifice salary to get another club here but we were willing to do that.
"For me it was listening to my wife. I know she's really close to her family and I've taken her to all my clubs, Melbourne, Titans, Sharks and she said that she wanted to stay.
"I obviously wanted to stay another one or two years even though the offers from overseas were quite appealing.
"I'd rather have my wife be happy than being over there and getting more money and her not being happy."