LEILANI Latu is on a mission with Warrington Wolves.

He feels he has a point to prove after two years with Gold Coast Titans in which he was limited to just nine appearances in the Australian NRL competition.

The prop forward, who turned 27 yesterday, Wednesday, made his Wire debut in the reserves at the weekend as he settles into life in a country he had not visited before.

He is due to be joined by his wife Kenina, who is expecting their second child in April, and 20-month-old son Lennox in a few weeks’ time.

For now the 6ft 2ins man-mountain’s focus is rugby league, embedding himself into the community and learning the local culture.

He has had some help from old friends, having reunited at The Wire with former teammates Sitaleki Akauola and Ben Murdoch-Masila.

“In my first week here leading into the weekend’s game when I was away from training I just did a bit of sightseeing around Warrington,” said Latu, who has international experience with Tonga back in 2017.

“I had a bit of a walkabout around Stockton Heath and said hello to a few locals.

“They saw me in thongs (flip-flops) and said ‘You’re not from around here, are you?”

“Warrington’s a really nice place.

“I was asking a lot of locals about why the team’s called The Wire and it’s very interesting.

“I like finding out the history about the teams that I play for.

“And you have to try and gather the intel to feel the culture that’s here. All I want to do is be a part of that, live and breathe in it.

“I think it’s the case for anyone that you give of your best when you feel that sense of belonging somewhere.

“And with me being away from my family, I’ve got to find that sense of belonging somewhere.

“I know I’ll get it from the team but more so I want to get that from the locals as well, getting in the midst of them, talking to them, learning about the history behind Warrington.

“That’s little steps for me that make me feel more welcomed and make me feel more confident in wanting to play.

“It’s a new beginning for me now.

“In any new environment for me I feel as though I have to prove myself really quickly in order to gain the trust not only of my teammates but of the locals as well.

“I know for a period at the Gold Coast the fans thought that I was a waste of money.

“I didn’t allow that to affect me, I still went out there and treated them with respect, and I gave them the time of day to explain things to them.

“I didn’t resent any of that. I accepted that because that’s what the life of a footy player is, there are a lot of demands, a lot of pressures on the shoulders both in and out of footy and you just have to learn to deal with those things and be able to juggle.

“I’m here now though, and had my first game.

“It had been about four months since the last time I’d played so for me it was just trying to get some minutes into the legs, getting the legs rolling again, just getting the feel of the ball in my hands.

“I had a full pre-season with Gold Coast but I think I can top up the conditioning more.

“I felt for the time being I held my own out there at the weekend.

“I didn’t know what to expect really, who I was playing against and the conditions.

“I learned very quickly between stints on the field that you have to keep your body moving.

“It’s very hard to warm your body up and not get stiff, whereas back home you can afford to have a little sit down and then get up for a warm-up.

“But here, because it’s cold, your body stiffens up very quickly.

“I’m just excited now for what’s to come on the rest of this journey.”

Ste Rutter revealed on our Warrington Wolves-Warrington Guardian Facebook page that he had bumped into Latu around town.

Warrington Guardian:

He said: "Lovely chap,hope he’s horrible and nasty on the pitch tho."