He is set to go into next year as the Eels oldest player, and whilst that is not something lock Reni Maitua wants to focus on – he is looking forward to being a leader at the club, once Nathan Hindmarsh and Luke Burt retire from the club, at season’s end.
With 2012 his first full season of NRL since his earlier drug ban a few years back, the return has been somewhat bittersweet, given the Eels position on the competition ladder.
“I’ve been back a while now and frustration has started to creep in – no one wants to be in this position,” Maitua said.
“I certainly don’t want to have this year again next year.”
Whilst 2012 is not out of the player minds just yet, Maitua is keen for 2013 to roll around – as a sign of redemption for both himself, and the club.
A period of redemption that Maitua says has to start this week, against competition leaders, the Melbourne Storm.
“I think it’s extremely important that we go in the right direction over the next six weeks, not just starting on November 1 when we come back to (off-season) training,” he said.
“We’ve all had a frustrating year and there’s certainly things I’m looking forward to working on over the pre-season and moving into next year.
“Personally, I’ve got a feel for the players around me now and I’ve got some ideas of who I’d like to work with in regards to building combinations and things that might work for us.”
With Maitua’s 30th birthday fast approaching, he, among a few other Eels players, will be seen as the leaders moving forward.
“It’s sort of a responsibility you don’t want to have,” he said.
“I feel like sometimes I’m one of the youngest blokes in the team. I joke around and like to hang out with the younger boys.
“But it’s a time where you’ve got to realise that you’re being looked up to as a leader and that’s something I’m still working on.
“It’s also something that I’m actually looking forward to.”
There is also one other thing weighing on the mind of Maitua – with the lock keen to avoid the wooden spoon, for the sake of his captain and mentor, in Nathan Hindmarsh.
“Hindy’s someone I’ve looked up to my whole career and a wooden spoon is not the way I want to send him out,” he said.