After the excitement of his rapid rise to the NRL over the last few weeks, NYC’s Joseph Tapine looks forward to running out in the red blue on his home soil of New Zealand on Sunday.
Tapine made his NRL debut in Round 9 against the Panthers at Hunter Stadium, advancing on to make his mark in the Knights’ challenging contest against Manly in Round 10.
He now looks forward to crossing the ditch to perform in front of his family against the New Zealand Warriors at Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium.
“It’s always great going back home,” Tapine said.
“I love going back and seeing family.
“It’s in Auckland, so it’s not my home, but it’s always great to get back to New Zealand.
“I don’t think my aunty has ever watched me play, so it will be good to see them and catch up."
Tapine’s mum flew from New Zealand to be at Hunter Stadium for her son’s debut on Mother’s Day against the Panthers.
“I always love having my mum at the game,” Tapine said.
“She has always been there watching my games since I was little, so having her there is a bonus.
“She is always nagging me to text her back, so it will be good just to see her in person again."
The 20-year-old has had a good taste of life on the NRL stage.
He expects it to pay dividends to his NYC games after experiencing the high intensity of first grade level.
“The biggest thing I’ve learnt is just the speed and physical nature of the game,” he said.
“It’s also the professionalism they have up there.
"They are good tough games and I enjoyed both games.
"Now I just want to try and get back up there."
Tapine has confidence in his NYC teammates and said the side’s depth has allowed for the absence of key players.
“We’ve got plenty of depth and it has showed in the last couple of weeks," he added
“(Jake) Mamo has been playing NRL and Sione (Mata’utia) has been out and we’ve had other guys step up.”
The NYC Knights have had a strong season, winning every game before Manly's close defeat in round 10, before the bye.
“It’s the best feeling playing in a team that wins a lot,” he said.
“You get confidence off other players and you definitely play your best footy when you’re in a winning team.
“We’ve got leaders down there anyway, but it will be good to go back and be more professional and try and help some of the boys out."
Tapine is not the only Newcastle based Kiwi to return home to play with the Knights.
A number of New Zealand Knights in all three grades will play in Auckland on the weekend.
New recruit and Kiwi James Taylor will play his second game for the Knights NYC in Auckland on Sunday while NRL’s Jeremy Smith will make a comeback in his home country after being sidelined due to a knee injury.