If you had asked if he would play NRL again following his previous 2-year drug ban, Eels back-rower Reni Maitua would have told you that he was just thankful teams were looking at buying him â€“ something the Eels did
If you then asked him which coach he feels as if he has something to prove to, he would say the Eels 2013, Ricky Stuart.
When all looked lost for Maitua in the 2009 NRL season, it was Ricky Stuart, then coach of the Cronulla Sharks that gave Reni Maitua a life-line to continue playing the NRL, after he had his contract terminated by the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The life-line was short lived however, after Maitua was found to have tested positive to Clenbuterol, a banned substance in sports and the NRL, blacklisted by ASADA.
Maitua, 30, now playing at the Eels, believes he played the best game of his Eels career in their Monday night win over the Broncos â€“ but now, he knows he owes something to Stuart, for giving him that initial life-line.
“I owe a lot to Rick. He gave me an opportunity at Cronulla and I let him down,” Maitua told reporters on Friday.
“I’m pretty excited that he’s coming to the club … I’m really looking forward to working with him on November 1.
“I let the club and Stick down and this is how I want to repay him.”
Wins have been hard to come by for the Eels this year, despite their two wins on the trot â€“ but despite that, Reni wants to be a part of the new Eels team under coach Ricky Stuart, in season 2013.
“I’ve been here over 12 months now and I’m really happy at the club,” he said.
“I couldn’t be happier, I’ve got another two years here. I’d love to finish my career here.
“I’m just looking forward to obviously finishing the year strong and having a big year next year.”
Although there is still some uncertainty as to whether or not Stuart will also be the coach of NSW, Maitua says that Stuart is still the man for that job.
“It’d be a shame to lose him over that period but I think he still should be the NSW coach,” Maitua said.
“We’ve got a good coaching staff here that can keep a side on track through that period of the year.
“I’m happy for him to do both.”