Livai loves the big hits
By MITCHELL DALE
FIJIAN flier Livai Wara has left a lot behind to chase his rugby league dream with Bellingen this season.
The 25-year-old farewelled around 30 teary-eyed relatives at Sydney airport last week to take up a one-year contract with the Magpies.
Wara, a former Balmain Tigers and Sydney Roosters SG Ball and Jersey Flegg player, wants to have one more crack at the big time, but says he needs to get away from the 'distractions of the city' to do it.
"I'm spewing because a lot of my team-mates (from the Roosters) like Anthony Minichiello, Chris Flannery and Mark Riddell have gone on to play first grade," he says.
"I had to take two years off after I cracked the L4 disc in my back and that was when they all kicked on.
"It was pretty disappointing but they did the hard yards and I probably wasn't as committed as I could have been back then.
"I want to get fit up here (at Bellingen), play well and hopefully see if I can get into the NRL.
"(But) I needed to get away from the fast life of the city to achieve one of the things I have always dreamt about."
The strapping second row/centre admits he is still battling a bout of homesickness, but says footy will be the right prescription.
"It was very hard to leave Sydney because I have heaps of family there, my father has 12 brothers and six sisters and my mother has six siblings," he said.
"Plus my missus of seven years is still in Sydney, she couldn't come up because of work, so it is hard on both of us.
"I'm a bit homesick at the moment, but I should get over it when the season starts and I get into that.
"It's been great up here so far, everyone has been really good to me.
"A few of the boys have said they will teach me how to surf while I'm here, so I'm looking forward to that."
Wara, who was spotted by Bellingen captain-coach Blair Sankey while playing in the Fiji-Cook Islands Test at Coffs International Stadium on Australia Day, is the latest in a long line of Polynesian powerhouses to play for the Magpies.
If past history is any gauge, Wara is certain to become a favourite with the Bellingen faithful.
However, the crowd favourite tag doesn't sit too well with Wara at the moment.
"That's a bit nerve-wracking actually," he says.
"Hopefully I can perform well and the crowd will enjoy what I have got to offer."
While most of the Magpies' previous Fijian recruits have become stars for their knack of finding the tryline, Wara is cut from a different mould.
"My forte would be physical contact, I like the big hits," he said.