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Tony Smith says Warrington Wolves signing Roy Asotasi is making his presence felt
WHILE Roy Asotasi admits he is still feeling his way into Super League, his boss Tony Smith is pleased with his contribution so far.
The 32-year-old warhorse, who has skippered New Zealand and Samoa, has been honoured this week as a life member of South Sydney Rabbitohs – the NRL club he served with distinction for seven seasons before joining Warrington this year.
And Smith has been pleased with the leadership value the ex-Bunnies captain has brought to the squad since joining up with them on the pre-season training camp in Australia two months ago.
“There is still some working out of some of our systems and how he applies his skill to that but I think he has slotted in exceptionally well,” said Smith.
“It can take overseas players quite a bit of time to settle in. I think he’s in pretty good form but I think there’s a lot from him to come.
“He’s very good behind the scenes for us.
“Roy is very professional in his approach to the game and he’s willing to speak up and pass on some of his experiences.
“He’s got a real calmness about him that’s not a whole lot dissimilar to some of the attributes Brett Hodgson brought to us in terms of calmness when he speaks.
“And when he speaks people listen to him. He’s been a real asset for us in the training and planning room.”
Sat in the changing rooms with Asotasi after the London win, with a blood-shot right eye, a growing egg above his eyebrow and clearly feeling the aches and pains of his latest battle, it is clear to see Asotasi for the true warrior he is.
He is someone to be counted on as 'the last man standing' and Smith tells of the ritual of being 'last man out'.
"He has his routine and takes his time in the changing rooms. He's always been last out since he's been with us and I won't expect anything else each week," said the Wolves chief.
"He's very professional and looks after himself post-game, because he puts it all in when he's on the field.
"So he has a routine to take care of himself to get himself ready for the next week."
Big Roy wants his impact to be felt more strongly as quickly as possible, and enjoyed the warmer ‘Oz’ conditions and firmer ground in London at the weekend in contrast to the wet and cold Super League season so far.
“It’s been hard adjusting to conditions I’m not used to,” he said.
“I’ve just got to plug away, try and get myself accustomed to the culture, the style, the way the game is played and sooner rather than later.
“As the games go on hopefully I can keep on improving.”
He acknowledges the test facing him and packmates against Salford tomorrow, Friday.
“They’re an aggressive side and if they get their forwards to be aggressive, it gives their half backs time to do what they need to do.
“So we’ve got to concentrate on stopping their forwards.”
While ex-Wolves skipper Adrian Morley grabs a lot of the Salford headlines, Asotasi is well aware of his front-row partner Lama Tasi, a recruit from Brisbane Broncos.
“I’ve played with him for Samoa in a mid-season Test match and also against him when he spent time at Sydney Roosters.
“He’s a quality player and I think is one of the leading front rowers at the moment in regards to metres and what he does for Salford.
“He’s a guy whose momentum you have to stop. Like any other player, the more they run the more confident they will get.
“So as a team we’ve got to work hard defensively.
“We’ve been heading in the right direction in attack, but on defence we still need to work on a few areas.
“We’re leeking about 16 points per game so the sooner we can fix that then we feel we’ll be a better side.”
He enjoyed scoring his first try for the club against London, storming onto a crash ball from a front-row colleague and swatting off a defender on the line.
There has been a tradition in elite rugby league that at the end of the season the players who have failed to get over the whitewash face the peer pressure of a naked run.
Asotasi said: “It was good to get on the scoreboard - no nudey run!
“I’ve got to thank my main man Chris Hill for putting me in.
“I’m only two behind Joel Monaghan now so I’ll catch him up.”
It was the first of the team’s nine tries in London, a three-fold improvement on their previous best haul against Hull a week earlier and perhaps a confidence booster for arguably tougher games ahead.
But the wily campaigner was more concerned with the 16 points leaked in the first half and said: “We’re not getting too carried away.
“We need to start games better and, nothing against London Broncos, but you can’t do what we did in that first half against quality teams.
“So that’s something we need to address throughout the week.”
And he added: “We might have taken the game a bit easy in the first half and didn’t aim up.
“Our coach wasn’t too happy about that.
“Defence was something we were poor at in the first half and it took a bit of a kick up the backside from the coach at half time to play a lot better in the second half and to keep London to nil.
“He was a bit filthy at how we decided to wake up in the second half and that we slept in the first half, leaking a lot of points.
“Points for and against will contribute to where we will sit towards the end of the year.
“So we’ve got to make sure that we have a good week, prepare well and go into the Salford game with the right attitude and start the game hard and tough. That will solve a lot of problems.”
However, it is reassuring that a man of his experience and match knowhow considers the team is generally improving as it goes along.
“We had a good training camp in Australia and worked ona few things,” he said.
“Now the season’s kicked into full gear we need to take a lot of that stuff on to the field.
“A lot of that comes down to us gelling as a team. We’ve lost a few players - key players too - so it’s pretty much a new team and we’re trying to figure out how each other plays and it’ll come together as the competition keeps moving on.
“For now, it was good to get the two points against London. We’re two wins from four games, we’ll just keep working on that and hope that we keep improving.”
Away from the club, big Roy’s family are also settling into their new life in the northern hemisphere.
The children, aged two and six months, are keeping the Asotasi’s busy.
“When you’ve got two little rugrats running around it’s a workout in itself,” he said.
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