THROUGH his three years at Warrington Wolves, Ben Murdoch-Masila was more than just a player.

While he freely admits a frustrating series of niggling injuries have stopped him from showing what he can truly do on the field, he and his family have become entrenched in the community off it.

The call to return to his native New Zealand may have become too loud to ignore, but Warrington will always have a special place in the hearts of the Tongan second rower, his wife Roxy and their daughter Acacia-Rose.

"Absolutely it is going to be hard," the big man said when asked how much of a wrench it will be to leave.

"I love the town, the fans and the club although I won't miss the traffic!

"Coming from where I did, I had to get away and as soon as I got here, England provided that comfort and love I needed.

"In saying that, I think my wife and daughter are just longing to spend time with family with us being away for such a long time."

Warrington Guardian:

In all, Murdoch-Masila has spent five seasons in Super League – the past three with The Wire and two with Salford Red Devils, whom he joined from Penrith Panthers.

Wolves parted with the significant sum of £175,000 to sign him from their neighbours after a blockbusting 2017 campaign that saw him named in the Super League Dream Team.

While there were undoubted glimpses of the devastating power that saw him stand out, he admits he never got the chance to recapture that form in a primrose and blue jersey.

His first two seasons were spent nursing niggles that limited him to short spurts off the bench but prior to this year, fresh from starring for Tonga in wins over Great Britain and world champions Australia, he was finally fully fit.

It was showing in the early rounds of 2020 as he held down a starting spot and played long minutes, but then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and once the game restarted, his season switched back into stop-start mode.

Injuries and suspensions hindered his progress and ultimately, his Wire career ended in play-off heartbreak again.

"It's heartbreaking," he said, reflecting on the season just gone.

"Having the year we did with Covid was hard on everyone.

"For myself also, it was disruptive again through injuries.

"I was trying to get myself right but I felt like I was always on the back foot."

Still, he leaves with an extra bit of cargo in the shape of a Challenge Cup winner's medal having helped The Wire to a Wembley win last year.

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All the while, Roxy was captaining the Warrington Wolves women's team through their inaugural season which ended in promotion to Super League.

With Covid forcing the cancellation of the women's game for this season, unfortunately she will not get the chance to lead the side in the top flight.

He and Roxy will also return to their homeland a married couple having tied the knot at Warrington Register Office in April of last year.

"She is gutted not to be playing in Super League with the girls," Ben said of his wife.

"But she loves the fact she did her job in leading the girls into promotion.

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"I love that because we got married here in Warrington, we are taking a bit of Warrington with us and we are leaving a bit of us here.

"I take great comfort in that."

They will leave friends for life behind as they start their new life back in New Zealand, but one particular brotherhood is primed to stand the test of distance.

"I will miss the big fella a lot," Murdoch-Masila says, referring of course to his fellow Tongan Sitaleki Akauola.

"I'll miss out on baby Salesi (Akauola and wife Reanne's newborn son) growing up, which I’m gutted about.

"But friends like that always stay strong."

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So how does the 27-year-old want Wire fans to remember him? And how does he think the team will do in his absence?

"That's a difficult question," he said.

"I hope to them I was just a guy who loved the club and always had time for the fans and people of the town.

"I think the team's in good stead – they just need a couple of good, strong leaders to lead the boys around.

"The three years I’ve had at Warrington have truly been the best."