This article was originally in the December 19th edition of League Express. To read the biggest stories first, buy League Express every week in stores or online at https://pocketmags.com/league-express-magazine.
Atelea Vea has been impressed by his new Leigh team-mates and believes the Centurions can do some damage in Super League this season.
Vea swapped St Helens for newly promoted Leigh at the end of the 2016 campaign. The backrower admitted he didn’t know what to expect when he arrived at the Leigh Sports Village but he has been pleasantly surprised.
“I got there and to be honest I didn’t really know what I was walking into, but when I looked around I was pretty confident after coming away from the first couple of sessions,” he said.
“Making a signing like Glenn Stewart, I found out about that whilst I was still overseas. That was a massive boost because I’m from Australia and watched the NRL. But the depth of the squad impressed me and it’s a good bunch of blokes too, which is important because you’re going to be stuck with a bunch of lads for a whole season.”
Vea had a spell in London in 2014 before spending the past two seasons with St Helens. The forward said he leaves Langtree Park a better player than when he arrived.
“It was just the end of the road for my time at Saints, but I had a good time there,” he admitted.
“I was just thinking about it now, because I’m still living in St Helens, but I’ve come away from there a 100 per cent better player and I’ve made new friends. I haven’t left empty handed from it and I’m still grateful.”
The Tongan international only made 18 appearances in Super League in 2016, with his opportunities restricted by injury. But Vea says he is now back to full fitness and raring to go.
“I think this is up there with the best I’ve been in coming into a pre-season,” he said.
“I’ve been able to do most things, although the old hammy starts to get a bit sore before fitness sessions, but then magically it’s fine straight after.
“But I get to go home for Christmas, so it’s like an incentive to go hard so I’ll be able to enjoy being there.”