Arguably one of Hull FC’s greatest ever overseas signings, Mahe Fonua was an unknown quantity when he joined the Black and Whites two years ago, but now he returns to Australia a hero.
Not a lot was known about the Melbourne-born prodigy, but Fonua quickly established himself as a Super League juggernaut, earning the respect of fans and peers alike.
Playing a huge part in Hull’s recent success, the Tongan international is now set to take on the NRL for a second time with West Tigers, and with a young family beside him, he leaves with everyone’s best wishes.
“I’ve been part of a very fortunate Hull FC team,” Fonua told the Hull Daily Mail. “I know we fell short in the semi-final and that’s happened in both years but if someone would have said I would play in two semis, win the Challenge Cup twice and get named in the Dream Team twice, I would have jumped at that.
“I’m really pleased with how things have gone over here and there are a lot of people to thank. My wife has put up with me and actually made the decision to come over here with me. Obviously Lee Radford and the coaching staff have been excellent as well. They have allowed me to showcase my talent and I cannot thank them enough.”
One of Fonua’s fondest memories though will be the Hull FC fan base. Known well for travelling in numbers, the hardcore make away games feel like home ones and get behind the team on every occasion.
“The Old Faithful are great. It’s going to be hard to see that same sort of atmosphere in Australia. They are a different breed of fans,” Fonua added.
“They stuck with us through some tough times over these two years as well with some big defeats at home but they are proper passionate.
“I’m going to miss the fans and it’s been a unique experience walking around the city over the last couple of days with people coming up to me and shaking my hand and thanking me for the two years, but at the same time I thank them for their support.
“These two years would have been a whole lot different if we didn’t get the support we’ve had.”