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Queensland connection still strong for young Rooster Va'a

A Queenslander through and through, Xavier Va’a made the move down south late last year to join the Sydney Roosters, and while he had some reservations early on about leaving family and friends, he has been made to feel right at home by the Maroons contingent at the club.

“At the end of last year, I made the move to Roosters and I was part of their pre-season, it was an awesome opportunity, and then since then, I have been one or two days training with them, but now I have been upgraded to fulltime for a stint or however long Robbo (coach Trent Robinson) wants me in, so I am just going to grab that with two hands and go 100 per cent,” Va’a said.

“It was hard definitely leaving family and friends and what I am used to and comfortable to, but looking back now, honestly, it was the best move for me and I had to move for my development and to get (different) exposure and I am moving closer and closer to that end goal of playing NRL hopefully.

“There’s heaps (of people to learn from) - definitely Lindsay Collins, he’s a Queenslander he’s amazing; and even though he’s retired, you have Jake Friend as well who is awesome, and Cooper Cronk, even comes in and teaches me what he wants as a halfback, what he wants from his front rowers.”

Queensland representative forwards Lindsay Collins and Jake Friend in 2020. Photo: NRL Images
Queensland representative forwards Lindsay Collins and Jake Friend in 2020. Photo: NRL Images

Va’a has also been able to learn from international representative forwards at the club who not only show the way with their actions, but are also happy to answer any questions.

“Jared Warea-Hargraves, he’s an animal, he’s a beast, same as Siosiua Taukeiaho, they are awesome leaders and awesome veteran players to learn from,” Va’a said.

“They show the way a lot through their effort, they are always turning up, they get the little things right, and then off the field, they grab me along, me and a few of the other younger boys and we just go for coffee and chill out and go over everything, life, footy, all of it, so it’s pretty awesome being amongst that top group.”

Xavier Va'a in action at Roosters training. Photo: Roosters Digital
Xavier Va'a in action at Roosters training. Photo: Roosters Digital

Va’a was recently in Brisbane as part of the extended Queensland Under 19 boys squad training camp and like all the players in attendance, was working hard and pushing to be part of the final line-up when it gets announced.

There were plenty of familiar faces to catch up with for Va’a, who originally played with the Bribie Island Warrigals and the Caboolture Snakes before coming through the grades on the Darling Downs with the Dalby Devils, Highfields Eagles, Toowoomba Valleys Roosters in the senior grade and St Mary’s College in school.

“Definitely it is a goal to make this final team, the game is (a few weeks) away, so it would be awesome to be part of that and just work on my principles and little effort areas to try and get myself in the squad,” Va’a said.

“Playing for Queensland is just a massive honour honestly, nothing beats it … I just love it.

“(This camp) was about building connections and I felt from previous relationships from years before, I probably know most of these boys, knowing their names and playing with them and against them it’s good to just link up together.

“I know heaps of the boys, it was great to play alongside Shaun Packer, he’s also an old boy (at St Mary’s) as well, he finished the year ahead of me, so good to catch up with him.

“There’s a few country boys here, so it’s good.”

Currently recovering from a fractured thumb, Va’a had other goals he wanted to achieve this year as well.

“Off-field, I will hopefully finish my first year in my studies, I am studying a degree in clinical psychology and hopefully I will get through that first year and pass and move on,” Va’a said.

“On-field, really just hammer in and I would like to play Cup, reserve grade in New South Wales, but if I could get that NRL debut, that would be awesome and definitely representing Queensland.”

The Queensland Under 19 representative team will be announced in coming weeks.

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.