Former Seagulls fullback explains why he joined rival club
LEAGUE: Sidelined by a serious knee injury for more than a year, Komiti Logona Vetemotu thought his chance to make it in rugby league might have passed him by.
Vetemotu, a strong, speedy, fleet-footed fullback with the ability to slot into the halves and a boot that could slot two-pointers from anywhere on the park, was part of a Hervey Bay Seagulls outfit that crushed the first half of the 2017 Bundaberg Rugby League season.
He scored five tries and kicked 44 goals as the Seagulls looked like a side that could win its second straight title, and he earned the right to play for Bundaberg Bears, then the Central Crows.
But a serious injury, an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee, put him on the shelf, and while he hoped to return to the field at Stafford Park, it didn't work out.
"I wasn't really sure where I'd end up," he said.
"It was an unfortunate injury and the way I went out, it was upsetting and in the back of my head I thought to myself I was letting down the boys.
"I told Seagulls I'd come back to play a full season with them and I hoped to do that this year, but I got surgery really late last year so that wasn't possible. I hoped to suit up next year but that didn't go my way.
"I've put myself first for once and decided to do what was best for me.
"Waves contacted me and I jumped on the opportunity."
The time away from footy might have helped Vetemotu discover how badly he wants a build a professional career in the sport, and given him even more drive to do so.
"It did me some good, having that time off footy made me really think about the stuff I want," Vetemotu said. "This is a passion of mine and something I want to pursue as a career, so coming back next year with a strong team like ATW is a blessing, and I'm looking forward to suiting up again."
He joins former teammates Clinton Horne and Billy Stefaniuk at the Tigers, a club which won its first title in a decade courtesy of a 23-20 win against Wallaroos in September.
It was the first time Waves player-coach Antonio Kaufusi won a senior premiership, and Vetemotu said the chance to work with the former Queensland, Australia and Tonga international played a major role in his move to the club.
It could only be a short term stop: the 20-year-old has his sights set on reaching the Intrust Super Cup, potentially through the Capras.
"Antonio really pushed to get me to the club and I'm really happy," Vetemotu said. "At the time I was thinking this is something I really want to do: it's something I'll get criticised for but at the end of the day I had to look after myself.
"(Intrust Super Cup) is definitely the plan. I struggled to see where I'd end up if I played for the Seagulls but having someone like Antonio who has been at the pinnacle of our game really lured me.
"I'm happy with my decision and I'm excited to suit up.
"Personally, I want to make sure my game's at the top level and I'm doing the job, but the main goal is to help them win the premiership."
Waves president Ashley Simpson said Vetemotu would not only add depth to the club's backline and boost the club on the field, but it was an addition of a genuinely good person.
"He'll be a great asset to our club. Here's a guy who is just really keen to play and it's great to have guys like that, guys who are thankful for the opportunity to play," Simpson said.
Vetemotu thanked Melissa, Andrew, Sieanna, Riley Alexander and Kelsea Alexander for their help.