7 teams. That is correct, you read it correctly. 7 teams. That is how many teams journeyman Arana Taumata has represented his career, despite only being 21 following a series of previous indiscretions that resulted in sackings.
He joins only two other league players in Darrien Doherty and Tyran Smith to have played for seven clubs in the competition, but for Taumata, he’ll be looking to make sure that Penrith stays his 7th and last.
Taumata is keen to repay the faith for the Panthers, and he will have the chance to do so, when he starts in the halves for the Panthers at their trial game against the Parramatta Eels.
Perhaps in a sign of encouragement for Taumata, his departure from the last two teams were not due to incidents or indiscretions, but rather, he just did not feel comfortable at those clubs.
‘I didn’t really have many friends up there to be honest,” Taumata said.
”I loved living there – the sun’s always out, it’s a beautiful place to live. Otherwise, I just didn’t really have the support network around me to be able go on to that next level.
”I’ve got that here in Sydney and I’ve got that here at the Panthers. Matty and the club have given me an opportunity to establish myself at this club.
”It’s a good club – the boys are all down to earth and I think that’s what makes it easier for me to settle in. They’ve welcomed me with open arms.”
Football is not the only thing that Arana is good at however, with a foray into the world of television in the future a real possibility, given that the young player has the confidence and charisma for it, as well as his father being a TV journalist in New Zealand.
”I think I’ve had my life pretty much under control the last two years, since I left Melbourne to be honest,” Taumata said. ”I haven’t got into trouble or anything like that. It was just about getting given an opportunity.
”Matty Elliott has put his head out for me to be here, so has the CEO, Mick Leary. I don’t want to disappoint anyone and most of all I don’t want to disappoint myself.
”I don’t want to be putting myself in positions where I’m going to let the club down. I’m a Panther now – Matty says that when you’re out in the public â€¦ you’re holding a franchise. This is what you’ve got to be about, this is what I’m about and this is what I commit myself to. It’s exciting for me to be here.”
With Panthers fans and even players perhaps having doubts about the decision to sign Taumata given his track record, he is working towards repaying the faith, and is slowly doing so.
”It’s been well known his journey in football,” Panthers captain Petero Civoniceva said
”He’s walked in here and he’s come in with a great attitude. He’s trained the house down all pre-season, no one can fault him for that.
”It’s just great to see. He’s a great young bloke and I think for us as senior players we just want to create the best environment for him. We’ve got a great culture here. I think he’s responded to that with the way he’s trained and the way he’s performed so far. We really believe in him.”