Mahe Fonua has looked back on the lockdown period, and believes the break from action was a chance for members of the Black & White squad to reflect on their early season performances, with the restart next week now a chance to right some wrongs as nerves and excitement kick in.
The Australian three-quarter, who’s signing for the club was announced five years ago today, featured six times before the enforced break having returned to the club from West Tigers for the 2020 campaign.
And although Fonua says the break was a chance to spend some quality time with his young children, and allowed players to reflect on both their positive and negative attributes of their performances, the nerves and excitement to play again have now firmly returned.
Speaking to hullfc.com, Fonua said: “It wasn’t the way I wanted to start my return to Super League. I only played a few games being a late inclusion back into the side and then I picked up an injury. But saying that, lockdown has been good for me to recover physically and have the body ready to go for the big return.
“We all did some reflecting – not all of those performances were up to our standards, and I think in that particular area, the break might have been good for us all to review our own personal games.
“The whole thing was a bit of a roller coaster – being confined to your house on the other side of the world with your family can be strange, but I’m lucky to have a good support group around me.
“However it gave me quality time to spend with my kids, and to see them grow into the characters they are now. They’re still young but it’s been great to spend so much time with them. In a weird time, it has given me a lot of time to settle back into life here. Once the restrictions were lifted, we managed to get down to Brighton for a week which was really nice and probably a good thing to do to freshen up the mind before we came back last week.”
The squad returned to training last week and Fonua explained the high intensity set by interim head coach Andy Last in the opening two weeks.
“It was a long period of time that we spent away from the Jacuzzi® Elite Performance Centre, but it’s great to be back in the company of the boys again. We’ve all got that bounce going into this mini pre-season and can’t wait to get going now with our fixtures.
“The intensity has been really high so far. Thankfully most of the boys have been training voluntarily during the break so everyone has come back in good shape, but the coaches are definitely putting us through our paces.
“The sessions have been vigorous and we’re starting to up the contact out on the pitch now, and the conditioning blocks have been really tough.
“The nerves and excitement are starting to creep in now. We’re just over a week away now, feeling fit and ready to go, and I want to bounce back from my injury and improve on my performances before lockdown. As of next Monday, we’ll be back into our first game week in months where we start to analyse how we want to play against Salford.”
And Fonua believes with a fully fit squad, the Black & Whites can push on in 2020 when the campaign resumes for FC next week.
“It’s part two of the same season, but it’s a fresh start. It will be a sprint and not a marathon now, but I think with our squad all 100% fit and ready to rock and roll, we’re ready to step it up and do some damage like we did in them first two games.
“I think with the squad we have and seeing how the way the boys are training, we’ll see some exciting scenes going forward and make a real push up the table. We can right some wrongs from earlier in the season and have the ability to make up for them poor performances, and replicate our good ones too.”
And the 27-year old expressed his desire to be back playing in from of the Black & White supporters once again when restrictions are finally lifted to allow supporters back inside stadiums.
“Playing in front of them is one of the big reasons I came back. They’re some of the best fans out there and they back us to the hills – their passion and loyalty is incredible and that has helped us through the last few months too.
“Once restrictions are lifted and we are able to get them back, they’ll be ready and roaring and helping us push on. Playing without fans will be strange but we will have strength in the hope that those supporters will be back with us soon, and cheering us on from home in the meantime.”