Mahe Fonua is back, and so is his mullet.
One of eight new signings for the 2020 season, the double Challenge Cup winner and golden tooth advocate is all set for a second spell at Hull FC – and we can’t wait.
Voted the fourth best player in Super League before leaving for Sydney, the challenge for Fonua now is to be even better this time around, just like his hair piece.
That’ll be tough though. Fonua has been out for months with a foot injury suffered whilst playing for Wests Tigers. It’s an injury that put his NRL career on hold again, and an injury that sees him back at Hull FC.
Of course he’s grateful to be here, but Fonua left our club to raise his young family back in Australia, not that life ever goes the way we all plan.
A case of de-ja-vu then, especially when arriving back in East Yorkshire at the end of November with his wife and kids.
“I’m happy I’m finally here, it’s been a long time coming,” Fonua stated in his first press conference back at the club. “I obviously signed in late June but there was a couple of visa issues that had to be looked after. I’m happy that’s done and a 24 hour flight with two kids that’s finally over.
“I kept in touch with Radders the whole time I was over there, we’re good mates, and he reached out when I actually needed him the most. I’m thankful for him and the club for bringing me back.
“With our sport it’s a very physical game and it’s unfortunate that we get injured. I broke my foot, it was a lisfranc injury that had me out for the rest of the NRL season. Had Radders not kept in touch, I would have had to rush back to then play for another contract or the clubs would have had the upper hand.
“It would have been ideal to stay in the NRL, that was the initial reason we moved back from the Super League because we were having our first daughter.
“But I’m very happy to be back, especially with the squad we’re building because on paper we look like a very sound team, if we perform as good as we look like on paper we can do some damage.
“There was a couple of other teams in the Super League that were showing an interest too but obviously me and this club have a lot of chemistry and history.
“My daughter was born here as well. So Hull were my first preference. I do hold Hull in high regards, the club and the support of the fans.”
Mahe Fonua was no stranger to the NRL having come through as a Melbourne junior, leaving the Storm ahead of his first spell at Hull FC.
Their competition is different, it’s more defensively orientated than Super League, and being in and out of the Wests Tigers side due to injury problems made it tough.
“It was a different experience for me, but I feel like it was a better sort of learning experience,” Fonua continued.
“Injury set me back both years in a row and for lengthy periods throughout the year. I had two different coaches in Ivan Cleary and Michael Maguire and they both coach in different ways, I learned a lot off both of them.
“But playing with some older experienced players like Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall, they bring a lot of knowledge to the team. Little things that you can learn off them and what they bring to the younger players.
“You’re always learning and I feel this time going back I was able to give some input of my own but at the same time still learn off the senior players.”
Now settling in East Yorkshire once again, there is still a sense of familiarity for Fonua at Hull FC, both on and off the field.
His first spell brought two Challenge Cup wins and successive play-off finishes, but after two inconsistent years without him, the hope now is to bring back that success.
“Coming back to somewhere we’re familiar with, me and my wife have found it easier,” Fonua added. “A lot of the core players that were here last time are still here so my missus hasn’t had to find a new group of people to hang out with. She’s come straight back to some of the girls that are already here. Happy wife, happy life and I’m trying to keep her happy.
“With the squad the club is trying to build I think we can definitely be up there in the mix with St Helens and Wigan. I’m really excited for next year and hopefully we can make it to Old Trafford.
“I reckon winning there would be bigger. The Challenge Cup is held in high regard but that’s not the week to week competition that we play in.
“It’s good to make Wembley and win the Challenge Cup but you train all season to play 29 rounds of a season which is the Super League.
“I think that’s the pinnacle and to be able to win it would be a credit to the staff and the players.”
And what about Fonua’s position? He starred at both centre and wing during his first spell, but he knows there is stiff competition for places in the outside backs.
“I’d just be happy to get on the field,” he said. “If there was a preferred choice, I wouldn’t mind being in the centres, but where I can be on the field for the team I’ll be happy to represent the club.
“I always kept the club close to my heart.”