Recruits help lift Lake Macquarie

LAKE Macquarie coach Danny Maiava is not one for hyperbole.

When he told assistant Bob Harrison that he had recruited three players from Sydney the newly appointed fitness guru and defensive specialist was not sure what to expect.

The Alo brothers, Dave and Ray, and Junior To’o boasted impressive resumes.

Dave, 30, played sevens for Samoa and had a short stint at the NSW Waratahs, while Ray, 26, and To’o, 26, had extensive experience in Sydney first grade.

Plenty of players have lobbed in Newcastle with glowing reputations, but it took three minutes to convince Harrison the trio were the real deal.

‘‘They have been fantastic, Junior especially,’’ Harrison said. ‘‘The first night at training Junior was such a dominant force we had to restrict him to running 10 metres with the ball.

‘‘After three minutes we said we might have just seen the Anderson Medal winner.

‘‘It is not just Junior, the three of them are professional in their outlook and have dragged the other blokes along.’’

A barnstorming No.8, To’o played with Gordon last season. Ray, a halfback or five-eighth, was at Penrith, and inside centre Dave had a season in rugby league with Auburn Warriors.

A chance meeting between Dave Alo and Maiava at Auckland airport at the World Cup in September was the catalyst for their move to Speers Point.

Maiava had worked with Alo in the Samoan set-up.

‘‘We had a chat and he asked if I’d be interested in having a season in Newcastle,’’ Alo said.

‘‘Me and my missus came up and had a look around.

‘‘We were tired of living in Sydney and thought the lake would be a nice place to bring my kids up.

‘‘Danny asked if I knew of any other players looking for a change. I suggested Ray and his mate Junior.’’

Apart from the trio, Brendan Holiday is back from West Harbour, backline utility Mika Taufaao has returned from Mackay, Warringah five-eighth Matt Clarke has made the trip north and former New Zealand under-19 and North Harbour prop Mehaka Wickliffe has joined the Roos from Brisbane.

‘‘Hopefully they all stay on deck and we have a headache on our hands,’’ Harrison said.

‘‘They can sense what we are trying to build at the club and have thrown their heart and soul into it.

‘‘We have got a lot of work to do. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

‘‘The blokes are desperate for success and desperate to learn. There is a real attitude change there.

‘‘While ever they are positive and we remain positive, the place will go forward.’’

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