Beyond the Blue Wall: Moeaki Fotuaika
When Moeaki Fotuaika earned a scholarship to Keebra Park State High School in grade 7, he was one of a number of talented youngsters brought together to see how they would develop over their High School years. Following in the footsteps of his talented older brothers, Fotuaika knew that Keebra Park was a great school for developing rugby league players and wanted to make the most of the hard trainings to help him further his abilities.
As a junior, Fotuaika experienced success as an A’s side player, however, there was always tight competition for top spots. It was the competition, the hard training sessions, and time spent in the gym before school that helped fuel Fotuaika’s desire to stay motivated and determined to achieve success. Travelling every day from well over an hour away (each way), Fotuaika says the time spent with the boys, building close friendships and a tight knit family, helped him keep his head in the game. During his senior years, Fotuaika played on the QLD Schoolboy Championship winning side as well as in the National Schoolboy Final loss in 2016. His contribution to the team was strong and he formed a formidable pack with Australian Schoolboys Tom Mikaele and Payne Haas.
When he graduated in 2016, Fotuaika remained unsigned, despite having a great deal of skill and promise. After chatting with Kobe Tararo, another Keebra Park Old Boy, about an under 20’s trial for the Gold Coast Titans’, Fotuaika decided to try his luck with the local side. The Titans saw what the Keebra Park staff had long known and picked up Fotuaika to a 20’s contract at only 16 years of age. Coaching staff at the Titans’ picked him for Round 1 of that year, where he earned man of the match and from there, his career has taken off. Fotuaika was named Gold Coast Titans’ NYC Player of the Year in 2017, sharing the top honours with fellow Keebra Park graduate AJ Brimson. He was also selected in the Junior Kiwis (Under 20’s) in 2017.
Currently, at just 18 and in the space of 12 months, Fotuaika has earned himself a four year NRL contract, with 2018 featuring a year as a full time NRL development player and the next three years as a fully fledged member of the Titans’ top squad. He plays for the Tweed Heads Seagulls, Queensland Cup side, and is enjoying the challenge of playing against teams featuring older, tougher bodies. His Titans’ colleagues, like Nathan Peats and Ryan James have praised Fotuaika for being an extremely tough and fit player and have tipped that he will be likely to see NRL game time in 2019. Despite the challenges, Fotuaika is getting used to playing physical games each week and is looking forward to what the future may hold for his career.
Fotuaika’s final piece of advice for young athletes coming through the ranks of their footy side is to always enjoy what they do and be willing to learn new things, but above all, do exactly what Fotuaika did and continues to do each week, work hard.