“If you run at me, be prepared to get hurt!”
New St Helens forward Agnatius Paasi has sent a warning out to his Super League adversaries as he prepares to take the competition by storm.
Paasi admits he loves the rough and tough that comes with playing in the trenches and is looking forward to getting accustomed to some new rivals, now that he’s made the move to Super League.
“I started off in the second-row, but it wasn’t much fun out there,” he said.
“I got pushed to front-row and I’ve loved it ever since. Taking the tough carries and tough tackles, that’s where I want to be and I like to enforce myself into the game and I like getting the boys up by running out of defence.
“It’s either you or me. I like to play against the best and go against the best.”
Paasi’s move to Super League almost saw him wear different colours.
It was the blue and amber of Leeds that the Tongan international looked set to sign for before a call from Saints and Tonga coach Kristian Woolf changed everything.
“I was very close,” he said, when asked if he almost signed for the Rhinos.
“Leeds came with an offer first and then a week later Saints came on board. It was pretty close, I was about to put my pen down with Leeds before the Saints came and I spoke to Woolfy.
“I spoke to him three or four times and what he had to offer was to bring out the best player I can be and sustain it over the year. It was good to talk to him and this year I can go throughout the season playing my best footy.”
On the pitch, the 29-year-old is a snarling, no-nonsense enforcer.
Off it, he’s quite the opposite; a smiling, happy father of four, who is enjoying some quality time with his family after spending a large chunk of 2020 away from them.
He was part of the New Zealand Warriors side that relocated so the NRL campaign could continue, but the distance from his young family saw him return to New Zealand in August.
“We had to make a sacrifice, going to Oz and staying there for five months, that was pretty tough,” he admits.
“I thought we were going to get our families over, but that didn’t happen. At the end of the day it was about us as a team keeping the comp running. It was a big sacrifice.
“It was tough waking up and not having the kids jump on me. I was feeling for my partner, who was having to take care of four kids, which is not easy. I just wished I could have taken them for a walk to give her some time off. I had to go back in the end; three months was too long.
“I didn’t want to leave the boys. It was a situation that I didn’t regret, I just hoped it would be different with bringing my family over, but I think I made the right choice.
“Now I’m with them every day and they’re doing my head in already. But they’re a good bunch of boys, even though they get under my skin sometimes. We can’t do much at the moment, so I might have to take them out to play in the rain.”
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.