Australian-born New Zealander Ueta Tufuga is the child of the household.
“I’m truly the youngest. It does make me the smallest however it additionally makes me the quickest” he stated with amusing. “I’ll take that.”
The game has taken Tufuga, whose first identify is pronounced Moist-ah, to North America the place the hard-running centre has discovered a house with the Toronto Arrows.
“I adore it right here,” stated Tufuga, who got here to Canada together with his girlfriend Eunice. “The one factor I’m not loving is the climate. I can’t await it to heat up a bit. It’s a bit totally different from again dwelling however I believe it’s beginning to get higher now.”
“It’s the primary time seeing [snow] coming right here,” added Tufuga, who makes him dwelling in Palmerston North on New Zealand’s North Island. “And we form of loved it at first. After which when it’s important to drive, it’s the worst.”
Tufuga, 24, has had no downside negotiating Main League Rugby up to now.
“I get up each day eager to go to remaining and simply loving what I’m doing for the time being,” he stated.
Toronto (2-2-0) performs on the New England Free Jacks (3-1-0) on Saturday because the Arrows proceed their prolonged street journey to start out the season. Six of their first seven video games are away with a Feb. 11 contest staged in Langford, B.C.
After New England, Toronto will play on the Utah Warriors and Rugby New York earlier than returning dwelling to play host to Rugby ATL on April 2 at York Lions Stadium.
Arrows fly-half Sam Malcolm, one other Kiwi, knew Tufuga and handed his identify on to normal supervisor Mark Winokur.
Having traded Canadian worldwide centre Ben LeSage to the defending champion Los Angeles Giltinis in November, the Arrows have been joyful to discover a substitute. Tufuga arrived in late December.
Born in Australia to folks of Samoan descent, Tufuga moved to New Zealand when he was seven.
Tufuga performed membership rugby for a time alongside brothers Sam, Max and Kirk with Wairarapa Bush within the New Zealand Heartland Championship, which is the tier beneath the Nationwide Provincial Championship. Their father Faleono additionally performed for the staff again within the day.
Sam and Max, each props, presently play in Portugal and New Zealand, respectively. Kirk, the oldest of the brothers who performs No. 8, is with a staff in Spain. The 4 brothers even have a sister.
Ueta represented Samoa on the under-20 stage in 2017 however missed out on the World Rugby Underneath-20 Championship after injuring his ankle two days earlier than the opening recreation in Georgia. The subsequent yr he was invited to an All Blacks’ U-20 coaching camp.
In 2020, he was a part of the coaching group for the Southland Stags NPC staff in 2020. He beforehand performed for Massey College in Palmerston North.
The prospect to see North America was a giant attraction of taking part in in MLR.
“I by no means thought I’d be within the locations that I’ve been. I get to say now I’ve been there. … Just a few instances I’ve to pinch myself. … You see a few these locations in films that you just watch and also you go ‘What am I doing right here?’ It’s simply superior.”
Victoria was a selected favorite.
“It positively had a New Zealand really feel to it It was actually lovely there. New Orleans was good as properly.”
And whereas Tufuga is a great distance from dwelling, he sees similarities between Canada and New Zealand regardless of the distinction in climate.
“The folks listed here are actual good and actual welcoming. It’s form of the identical in New Zealand as properly,” he stated. “I discover lots of people listed here are actual type, particularly the boys on the staff.”
He and his girlfriend share an house with Arrows prop Lolani Faleiva, a fellow Kiwi. And two extra teammates from New Zealand – prop Isaac Salmon and winger/centre Dennon Robinson-Bartlett – stay in the identical constructing.
As for North American rugby, Tufuga says the usual is excessive with former worldwide stars corresponding to New Zealand’s Ma’a Nonu and England’s Chris Robshaw, each with the San Diego Legion, including to the star high quality.