During his short time working under coach Des Hasler, Fonua-Blake has joined the top bracket of front-rowers including big money-earners David Klemmer, Matt Lodge, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Melbourne’s Jesse Bromwich, who he will try to stop on Saturday evening at Brookvale Oval.
Fonua-Blake knows he could have earned a stack more cash had he held off committing his future to the Sea Eagles, but told the Herald he could not be any happier on the northern beaches under Hasler.
Even if he had held out for a better deal, there were no guarantees Manly would have come to the party given their little issue of trying to retain the Trbojevic brothers.
“I’m pretty comfortable with what I signed for,” Fonua-Blake told the Herald. “Dessie and my manager had a big talk about my future. There was some outside interest.
“I could have negotiated with other clubs on November 1 [this year], but I told my manager I wanted to stay, just because when you’re with a club and you go through the tough times, and then seeing how good we’re going this year, it makes you think, ‘What if we can be better again?’
“I’ve been here for the hard times, now I want to be here for the good times. Hopefully they’re not too far away. This time last year everyone was starting to plan their holidays. I couldn’t book much because of the Tongan Test.
“Fast forward 12 months and here we are, in the top four, and everyone is having fun.”
Fonua-Blake and Marty Taupau more than held their own against the Storm pack down south a month ago, and will have no shortage of inspiration when thgey run out in front of a packed house at Lottoland.
The 23-year-old would love to one day ”be the best prop in the game”, but said his immediate focus was on helping the Sea Eagles’ soar. Tonga are also the big beneficiaries with Fonua-Blake, Jason Taumalolo, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Andrew Fifita read to take on Australia in the end-of-year Test.
Hasler had not been back at the Sea Eagles long when he secured Fonua-Blake’s fresh signature and said at the time ”Addin can become one of the great Manly Warringah Sea Eagles front-rowers in its history”.
“Des is a down-to-earth guy, there are no frills, he gives you the truth and that’s all you want from a coach. He keeps you on your toes,” Fonua-Blake said.
While aggressive on the field, Fonua-Blake has been known to upset rival players and fans, with Sunday’s Canberra incident, which was described by Raiders boss Don Furner as unsportsmanlike, coming on the back of booing and a nasty racial slur from one section of the Newcastle crowd earlier this year when given ten minutes in the bin.
Meanwhile, Sea Eagles backrower Joel Thompson confirmed via Twitter he had broken his arm and would return in four weeks. He quipped: “I might have to give big Mal [Meninga] a call and borrow his arm guard.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.