After two years away, Tongan international Mickey Paea is relieved and glad to have returned to Humberside after re-signing with Challenge Cup holders Hull FC.
Previously having played four years in Super League – two for each Hull team – Paea returned to the NRL to sign for Newcastle Knights in 2016 on a two year deal but, after being told he wasn’t required for the 2017 campaign, he struggled to continue, admitting that “going into a season knowing you’re not part of the plans is hard. Trying to find fulfilment and enjoyment in that is tough.”
It was a relief for him, then, that Hull FC coach Lee Radford offered him a rugby league lifeline by putting a contract offer to him in order to return to a city he knows well, saying “being part of something, knowing you’re appreciated and part of the plans, that gives me the incentive to want to do well and repay the favour in Radders and the club.” Indeed, Super League is a competition he knows well after making nearly 100 appearances in his past campaigns in this country and he is ready to repay the faith shown by Radford and said “they’ve thrown a lifeline out to me and it’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly.”
Paea also likened the NRL to a “strict Catholic school where you’ve got to listen to the teacher” and used that as a reason why he was glad to return to a very different environment in Super League – one where he feels he can enjoy his game and once more find his love for the sport.
With Hull FC currently the two time defenders of the Challenge Cup and being one game short of the Grand Final last season, there is an added element of pressure on the Airlie Birds in 2018 but, with Paea being added to their already imposing pack, the Hull faithful will be hoping to make strides once more and hopefully reach only their second Grand Final of the Super League era in the coming campaign.