He has quite the story to tell, despite being just 26, but for Parramatta Eels recruit Lorenzo Ma’afu – but the former Ipswich Jets forward says one thing, he will fight tooth and nail to play hard and try to play first-grade.
Ma’afu has had somewhat of a troubled career, more so than some of his Jets counterparts – at just 15, he was put in jail for an armed robbery.
That incident gave him a new lease on life, and he knuckled down to play good, consistent footy, with NRL scouts watching on as he did so.
“I had about nine months to go on my committal and Keith Onslow came to the juvy home and talked to me about training with the Dogs,” Ma’afu said.
“Before, I was training for fun but after that I really focused.”
Unfortunately, his tenure at the Bulldogs, after having only played two NRL games, did not last long – after an incident at a club function, resulted in his sacking.
It had a ripple effect, as Ma’Afu lost his NRL contract, and the Bulldogs lost a sponsor as a result of the incident.
At this point, clubs were steering clear of the perceived, troubled back-rower, who made his way to Ipswich to play for the Jets – a club that Ma’Afu admits, he struggled at when he started, for various reasons.
“When I first got here I hated it,” he said candidly.
“I was really surprised about how a Q-Cup club ran.
“If you played in the NSW Cup, you pretty much train with an NRL club. No offence to the Jets but coming here it was like stepping back to club footy.
“You had to do everything for yourself. One of the funniest things was getting a pay check and finding out we were paying for our own strapping.
“It was a reality check.”
He did have one other chance to play in the NRL, but after Des Hasler left Manly, any contract negotiations Ma’Afu had with the club, fell through.