We are lucky to have another NRL interview to share with you all; former North Queensland Cowboys and Huddersfield Giants hooker and lock David Faiumu.
Faiumu opens up about his unexpected start in first-grade, the lead-up to the 2005 grand final, his Huddersfield move and much more.
Here the questions and answers so sit back and enjoy:
1. What are your earliest memories of rugby league?
Watching my local footy players in Wellington NZ. Being in the changing rooms with local A grade legends who my father played with.
I was the ball boy, running the water or kicking tee from the age of 6. Players like Steve Kearney, Johny and Dave Lomax, Tana Umaga and many other footy legends all played for my two junior clubs Randwick and Wainuiomata back in the 80s and 90s.
2. You made your NRL debut for the North Queensland Cowboys in 2004; were you expecting it or was it as surprise at the time?
No, I wasn’t expecting it.
I was playing alright for the Cowboys reserve grade team and the first-grade boys were on a bit of a poor run in the early rounds of 2004.
Muzza [Graham Murray] tapped me on the shoulder after training during the week and said, ‘I heard you’ve been going alright in first-grade’ to which I replied with a quiet, ‘not too bad, Muz.’
He replied with ‘what does that mean, not too bad, mate; have you or haven’t you?’ I said, ‘yes, I have been going well.’
He said, ‘that’s better!’ Muz then asked me if I wanted a run with the big boys and I actually said, ‘yes, I have been going well.’
I must have been nervous as hell but Muzza just smiled and said, ‘you’re in this week, mate, you’ll make your first-grade debut.’
He shook my hand, congratulated me and told me to go and ring my mum.
3. In 2005, the Cowboys made the grand final; although you lost the game, what was the grand final atmosphere like on the day for yourself and the club?
It was amazing. The entire week leading up to it was something out of this world for me nothing I had ever experienced before, I’ll never forget it.
Just the nerves and excitement running through your body on game day; the music, dancers, fans dressed up in all the gear at the stadium and at the airports and the media exposure, it truly is something special.
4. You sought a move to Huddersfield; what prompted that decision?
Personal circumstances prompted the move. I had been involved in an off field incident that forced me to continue my career in England.
There had been a few off field indiscretions occur in early 2008 including mine. David Gallop and the NRL had quite simply had enough and came down hard on us which was the right thing for the NRL to do.
I used my time in in England to grow and develop on and off the field and learn from the mistakes I had made earlier. I made a commitment to work hard, put my head down play well, look after my family and win the respect of my new club and fans.
I spent 8 years at the Huddersfield Giants and loved every minute of it. It is where my two daughters grew up for most of their childhood.
I completed a number of short courses in my early years at the Giants which led me to completing a BSc degree in Sport and Exercise Science at Huddersfield University. It took me four years to complete and was very tough at times.
Some nights I would be sleeping at the library (as it was 24 hours) trying to pump out assignments and then head straight to training and back to a lecture that same day. It was character building and I suppose has helped me to where I am today.
5. During your time at the Giants, the fans developed a chant for you; were you expecting to become such a fan favourite at the Giants?
Not at all. Nathan Brown was my coach for most of my time there and had a massive influence on how I learnt how to play the game in a more consistent manner, which I am guessing helped me earn praise from the fans.
Before Browny, my footy was good for 2 or 3 weeks and then poor for 1 or 2. Football at training and games was based on all the non-talent related efforts which is something Browny helped instil not only on myself but on the many other players within our Giants squad.
Ultimately, these new found values resulted in the Giants making the top 4, top 6 every year and even playing in a Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.
6. Since your retirement as a player; how have you stayed active in the game?
Due to injury, I retired at the end of 2014. The club looked after me and got me to coach the under 19s Giants team with a former team mate of mine and good friend Chris Thorman. I also worked as the Giants Development Officer in a dual role.
In 2016, I returned home to New Zealand and took up various roles with the New Zealand Rugby League as Development Officer for the Upper Central Region.
Then onto football administration as General Manager for the Wellington region.
In December 2017, our family returned to where my partner Belinda is from; Rockhampton in Central Queensland.
I am currently working for the QRL as the Wellbeing and Education Manager for the Central Region.
I enjoy my role because a lot of what I talk about is mostly things I have experience of myself or have seen happen to the many players I have played with.
I really enjoy the coaching part of the game so I also coach part-time on the side as the Central Capras ISC assistant coach to Kim Williams.
7. If you could give any advice to young rugby league players, what would it be?
Tip 1 – Work hard, expect nothing from the game and give everything.
Tip 2 – While playing, find something you love doing outside of the game. I have seen and played with many players that have had to retire at a very young age due to injury, form or have even fallen out of love for the game.
So it’s important you have something you enjoy doing outside of the footy pitch. There is usually someone in your life that has done it or is currently doing it.
Pick their brains on their successes and failures and use it to help guide you towards that passion. Whether it’s to become a plumber, doctor, chippy, whatever it is. Anyone with life experience will always be willing to share their story with you. You just have to ASK!