After four years playing in the English Super League, Newcastle Knights’ new recruit Mickey Paea will play his first game on Australian soil in Saturday’s trial match at Newcastle’s No. 2 Sportsground.
The NSW Cup clash against the Wentworthville Magpies, the Parramatta Eels’ feeder Club, will also mark his first time in the red and blue after joining the Knights at the start of the 2016 pre-season.
“It’s good to be here and to get a crack this weekend and dust off a few cobwebs,” Paea said after learning he’d been named in one of two squads to trial on Saturday.
“It’s always a physical hit out, the first one.
“It’s more of a case of getting out there and getting some game time.
“It will be good to get some kilometers in the legs…contact in and match fitness under your belt.
“It’s about giving yourself every chance of being in that squad round one.
“It’s going to be a test for every team.”
The Tongan international expects both teams find benefits off the back of their experience at the recent Auckland Nines tournament.
“It was good to see some of the young kids feature and the big boppers to get around the pitch,” he said about the two day nine-a-side competition.
“I think it’s good for the young kids to get some time on a decent stage.
“I dare say a few of those young kids will be backing up for Wenty (Wentworthville).
“They are always a tough Club and have some good juniors coming through.”
“It will be nothing short of a physical game."
Meanwhile, Paea has seen significant personal growth and development since relocating to Newcastle after playing for Hull Football Club and the Hull Kingston Rovers respectively.
“I’m fitter and probably three kilos lighter,” he revealed.
“It just happens when you have good systems and good weather. I think you get the quality out of the sessions and it’s more beneficial.
“I’m excited to be back.”
What the Minto Cobras junior has relished most about being back in Australia has been the stark improvement in the weather and training conditions.
“It’s a nice fast track out there as opposed to having a slushy pitch in the UK,” he said of the Knights’ training field at Wests Mayfield.
“You certainly don’t have the luxury of the good field we have over here. I think that takes the quality away from the session.
“The boys over here are pretty lucky and I don’t think they understand how lucky they are.
“The sun alone puts a smile on your face.”
With more than three months of pre-season hard work now in the bag, the powerful prop is looking forward to testing himself in the Club’s first 80-minute trial, which is sure to be watched closely by head coach Nathan Brown.
“Browny (Brown) has come in and has implemented some of his systems. I think all the boys have bought into it.
"We’re a team that’s building and learning everyday.
“We’re trying to get those structures right.
“We know what’s required out there...we have to go out there and do our job and do it well.”