Posted: Wednesday 13th October 2021
Fonua excited for #NewCasEra
Explosive. Exciting. Entertaining. Castleford have added Mahe Fonua to the Tigers 2022 squad on an initial one-year deal, with club options for a second and third.
With both NRL and Super League experience, the 28-year-old is another thrilling addition to Lee Radford’s team.
In this exclusive first interview with Mahe Fonua as a Castleford player, he discusses his relationship with the Head Coach, the squad he will be working with, and his adoration for Wheldon Road.
Most Castleford fans will need very little introduction to the Tongan international, he has been a star player for Hull FC and was hugely important in their Challenge Cup-winning campaigns in 2016 and 2017. Mahe has come up against the Tigers on a number of occasions and has always enjoyed the battle.
“I’ve loved playing against Cas, it’s such a competitive team. Going there as an opposition player to Wheldon Road it’s a little bit daunting but an awesome atmosphere,” Founa told castlefordtigers.com
The Mend-A-Hose Jungle is one of the best places for players to come and play, the home team loves the backing they get, the away teams usually don’t like the stick they get, as Fonua refers to.
“It’s daunting because I’ll get teased about my hair standing on the wing, I can just hear fan rinsing me! Such a good atmosphere, I love it.
“Everyone is really close to the game and I like that feeling about the stadium, it’s good from both sides, away fans at one side and the rest of the stadium is all home fans – you can always hear them throughout the 80 minutes. Hopefully, at The Jungle I get some compliments now instead of some abuse!”
Over 800 Castleford fans have already signed up to be part of the #NewCasEra with a 2022 Membership – you can too by visiting castlefordtigers.com/2022
With the start of this new era at the Tigers the timing to join the Club felt ideal for Fonua.
“With Radford coming in, the start of a new chapter, and the new signings he’s bringing into the club – I’m really excited to be a part of it.
“One of the key factors for me signing with Cas was the relationship I have with Lee, but at the same time I see the squad he’s aiming to build, and I wanted to be part of it. I think our team can do some damage and who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”
Whilst there is a raft of new players coming to Wheldon Road, Mahe is thrilled to be linking up with the current Castleford players who are already ingrained within the club.
“Paul McShane, he’s a real competitor, I always like trying to get stuck into him when I’ve played against him. He is one of those reliable, tough players to go against and I’m going to be really stoked to take to the field with him and wearing the same jersey.
“Players like Gaz O’Brien, Niall Evalds, and so many more, they are really good talents and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”
The switch from East Yorkshire to West reunites Mahe with Bureta Faraimo, and another former Black & Whites teammate from his first stint at Hull FC, Liam Watts.
“Wattsy and I have kept in touch during my time in Hull and even when I was back home, it’s going to be good to link up with the Big Judders again! He’s a great, skilful prop, and we’ll definitely need his momentum going forward.”
Lee Radford will be Mahe Fonua’s coach in 2022, a man the outside back has a lot of respect for, and who he believes gets the best out of him on the pitch.
“It’s the confidence and the faith that he shows in me, he makes me want to strive to be a better player for him. Back in 2016 and 17 he gave me the opportunity to spread my wings over here and that’s where I really found my feet, I was playing some of my best footy.
“When I play under him, I feel he gets the best out of me with the way he treats me and all his players, he gets to know each player on a personal level. The boys want to go out and really do a job for him as well as themselves, it makes me want to always be at my best.
“During my first time I’d come over as an unknown, so no-one knew what to expect of me, by the end of my first stint I was fortunate enough to come away with some silverware and be part of two Dream Teams.”
The two selections for the team of the year were richly deserved for Mahe too after scoring 31 tries in 58 games and being a huge part of their Challenge Cup double-winning team. It was always going to be a hard act to follow when he returned to Super League in 2020.
“I set the bar high for myself for when I came back, which wasn’t an issue, but I had another opportunity to represent Hull FC again and for whatever reason, I just wasn’t able to replicate my first stint. There was lots of ups and downs, I’m going to cherish lots of memories, and I’ve made some lifelong friends there at the club, and I will hold Hull close to my heart even though I’ve moved on now.”
Now, Mahe is all about being a part of the #NewCasEra and is raring to get started!
“I’m really excited to link up with Radders again, it’s a fresh start for me. These past two years have been really impacted by Covid stuff and I haven’t been able to find that form or continuity, so I’m really keen to get out in the Tigers colours and try do as much damage as I can on the field.
“To be able to play in front of such a passionate crowd at Wheldon Road, I can’t wait!”
Join over 800 Castleford Tigers fans who have already secured their 2022 Membership!
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