After rumours that emerged during the pre-season that said Souths captain Roy Asotasi would be let go by the club, it was a phone call from Souths Chief Executive that quelled any doubts he had about leaving the Bunnies.
Despite the rumours, it was former Souths winger, Beau Champion that was sacrificed, now a Melbourne Storm player.
Asotasi admits however that the constant speculation about his departure from the club caught him by surprise in a big way.
â€œIt was disturbing at first â€“ I was definitely a bit shocked by it all,â€ the veteran prop said.
â€œThank God I was out of the country at the time!
â€œI had a call from Shane Richardson saying that there was an article in the paper saying they were looking to offload me, but he guaranteed me that I would be staying at the club.
â€œI think that was a great thing by the CEO, to give me a call and assure me that I was going to be captain for 2011.
â€œAs I said, it was disturbing at first but when you get a call from the CEO it gives you confidence that youâ€™re still wanted.â€
For Asotasi, the year 2011 is all about showing the NRL, Souths and fans alike that he still belongs in the top echelon of props in the NRL, with the ultimate goal being to represent NZ again.
â€œI think I have a point to prove to myself this year because I know the kind of football I should be playing. Iâ€™m very judgemental of myself,â€ he said.
â€œThe last few seasons â€“ I had a major injury that put me out for a while and obviously when youâ€™re in that state, when youâ€™re coming back you like to think that you are 100 per cent and are able to perform at the level youâ€™re capable of but comparing it to what I have done this off-season, I just look back and realise how far off I was from my best.
â€œIâ€™m not there yet, Iâ€™m still working hard towards it, but I definitely feel a lot better coming into 2011.â€
On his improved start to the season this year:
â€œWell it definitely helps when youâ€™re training for three months in the pre-season. Itâ€™s something I havenâ€™t had for a few years.
â€œPrevious years I spent a lot of time in rehab trying to get myself right. The last two seasons I only had a month of running before the first trial so Iâ€™m definitely feeling confident that the three months of training Iâ€™ve had, pure running, has allowed me to put those other years behind me.â€
With Souths the favourites to win this weeks clash against the Tigers, who are decimated by injuries at the moment, Asotasi says that Souths have to learn how to put opposition teams to the sword.
â€œWeâ€™re looking to play 80 minutes instead of 70,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re still looking to work on closing teams out and the Tigers are another challenge for us.
â€œWeâ€™re playing a Tigers side that is down with injuries but thatâ€™s often what makes a side dangerous. Benji will be looking to lead that side out. The confrontations between our two clubs have always been tough so weâ€™re not expecting anything easy.â€