SOME rugby league players stay in one country for the entirety of their careers whilst others experience a number of different nations on their rugby league quest for greatness.
One of those players that falls into the latter category is former Hull KR and Toulouse Olympique forward Constantine Mika.
Now 34, Mika had been plying his trade in France for the last eight years, for Toulouse then Villeneuve Leopards before settling at the Limoux Grizzlies for 2022 before moving to local Australian rugby league side Nyngan Tigers.
Looking back over his time in Super League with both KR and Toulouse, Mika remembers the two experiences in a different manner.
“They were two very different experiences. When I was at Hull KR, I was younger and I had come over but I think I was just a little bit homesick,” Mika told League Express.
“I was a bit inconsistent in form. It was a real different experience, the crew we had at KR was awesome but I really didn’t feel like I settled when I was there.
“On the flipside, I went to Toulouse when I was older and met my partner here in France. Now we’ve got two beautiful kids who were born here.
“Obviously I was happy off the field when I was in here France and that showed on the field when I was at Toulouse.”
In terms of learning the French language and culture, Mika doesn’t pull any punches about the difficulty of it.
“It was difficult to learn the language and the culture and is still is. I’ve been here for nearly eight years now, it’s not easy but I think the first couple of years I immersed myself into the learning.
“So I made myself learn and really applied myself those first few years and now I can hold a conversation and understand people with all the important stuff which I can be proud of.”
Though the forward still plays big minutes and is known for his destructive running style, Mika has no interest in a return to Super League.
“No, that door has closed. My intention isn’t to come back to the UK – to play anyway. I think my time there is at an end. I enjoyed my footy in France and my life there with my family.
“I’m obviously transitioning to after footy now so whatever that looks like I don’t know but I’m at the back end of my playing career.
“I have had offers to return but I’ve not entertained them. It hasn’t really been something I have been looking at. I’m 34 now and my family is happy here so I don’t want to move.”
Mika’s rugby league career has taken him from Newcastle in Australia to Hull in the UK and then to Toulouse, Villeneuve and Limoux in France. But, the prop forward almost made it to Brooklyn, USA.
Having etched a deal to play for the Brooklyn Kings in the North American Rugby League (NARL) in 2021, the competition collapsed and with it Mika’s American dream.
“The competition was a no go. I think right up until the last month or so before they scrapped the competition, we were all ready to go.
“I still don’t know to this day why the competition didn’t happen, but the family were all ready to uplift to the States which would have been a pretty cool experience.”
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