“I was in no trouble – no trouble at all. I laughed at some of the stories.
“I’m a big boy, I know what is right from wrong, I’m not scared of anyone. I’m not leaving on any bad terms with anyone.
“I thought it was the right move for myself and my family and whatever I think is right by them I’ll do.
“It’s the next chapter in my life.”
Fonua-Blake stunned the Sea Eagles in September when he announced he was keen to leave Sydney, despite having two years to run on his deal worth around $1.7m.
In the space of just a week, Fonua-Blake struck up a three-year deal with the Warriors worth north of $2.5m – money which marks him as one of the best front-rowers in the game – yet questions remained about the sense of urgency to depart. Manly later signed Wests Tigers prop Josh Aloiai.
Fonua-Blake broke his signing news on social media, even before the Warriors had time to announce his prized signature.
The 25-year-old formed an excellent and intimidating front-row combination with Marty Taupau at the Sea Eagles, but knows he needs to quickly learn how to “stand on my own two feet” at the Warriors.
After finishing the first block of pre-season training in Kiama on Friday, Fonua-Blake is already being looked to as a leader by the Warriors. He knows the club have recruited well and have what it takes to return to the NRL finals. He also made it known there was one Sea Eagle he would avoid running at when the Warriors host Manly in round five in what will be their first home game at Mt Smart Stadium since round 24 in 2019.
“Hopefully it’s a sell-out game, and I don’t know if I’ll be running at Jake [Trbojevic],” he said.
“It will be good to see them. Hopefully I’ll see some of the boys during [the Christmas] break. But I know I won’t be going to Manly [because of COVID] soon.
“I owe the world to Manly. They gave me my shot and Des took my game to the next level. I’m forever indebted to him – I have a special place in my heart for Des.
“I need to learn to stand on my own two feet, and I need to learn how to gel with Kane [Evans], Leeson Ah Mahu, Benny [Murdoch-Masila], Jamayne [Taunoa-Brown] … it’s a good forward pack, but there are a lot of good teams on paper, and we need to get it right and be that team that dominates.”
Fonua-Blake will spend the next couple of weeks in western Sydney with family before linking with the entire Warriors squad in Tamworth on January 3 – when he will meet some of his new teammates for the first time – before they relocate to the Central Coast for a couple of months.
It could be a big year for Fonua-Blake if the Warriors can push deep into the finals – there are big expectations after the way they performed while forced to live away from home most of 2020 – before helping World Cup bolters Tonga.
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Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.