FOR Knights recruit Carlos Tuimavave, Shaun Johnson’s dazzling performance in the recent Four Nations final must have prompted mixed emotions.
Delighted as he no doubt was to see a former teammate on top of the rugby league world, Tuimavave was also entitled to reflect on his own career hiatus.
Tuimavave and Johnson were the halves pairing in 2010 when the Warriors won the National Youth Competition (under-20) grand final, after which Tuimavave was named man of the match.
The following season he skippered the Warriors as they retained their title.
Three seasons on, the 22-year-old utility has nine NRL games to his name, only one of which was last season.
‘‘He hasn’t played a lot of first grade since he finished NYC,’’ Knights coach Rick Stone told the Newcastle Herald.
‘‘After captaining a premiership-winning team, he had only limited opportunities.
‘‘He probably needs someone to believe in him and he needs to believe in himself. Hopefully he’ll respond to someone showing a bit of interest, coaching him a little bit and he can flourish from that.’’
The Junior Kiwis representative signed a two-year contract with the Knights midway through last season and, though he would appear to be behind Kurt Gidley, Jarrod Mullen, Sione Mata’utia and Tyrone Roberts in the pecking order, Stone said all options would be considered.
‘‘He’ll get a chance to show us in the trials and the nines that he’s a player of NRL quality,’’ Stone said.
‘‘I think he could handle five-eighth or fullback, even centre.
‘‘He’s a decent ball carrier and ball runner.
‘‘He probably needs to improve his kicking game and find a voice so that he has the confidence of the rest of the players.
‘‘But that’s coming. As an athlete, he’s got good strength and speed and he’s going to be a valuable player during the year, for sure.’’
A cousin of former Knights prop Evarn Tuimavave and nephew of former Warriors forward Tony Tuimavave, Carlos said he was happy to bide his time and hone his skills training alongside the like of Gidley and Mullen.
‘‘Speaking of those two guys, I’ve learnt a lot off them so far,’’ Tuimavave said.
‘‘They’re both quality players and I grew up idolising them.
‘‘I’m just trying to learn as much as I can from them and when my chance comes, take it with both hands.’’
Tuimavave was signed by former Knights coach Wayne Bennett but said his decision was based on a belief that there would be ‘‘a lot of opportunity here for me’’ rather than who was at the helm.
‘‘I’ve been training in the halves, so I’m guessing Stoney wants me there,’’ he said.
‘‘But he also knows I can play fullback as well. I’m happy to do whatever he thinks is best for the team.’’
Feeling homesick, he returned to Auckland after a brief stint with Canterbury when he was 16, Tuimavave said he was having no such issues in his new surrounds.
‘‘I’m settling in pretty well,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m living in Merewether, near the beach, and it’s beautiful down there. My partner is here and we’re loving it.’’
A return to Auckland for the pre-season nines tournament is one of his primary goals.
‘‘To go back and play in front of my family in the Knights’ colours, that would be awesome,’’ he said.