Ken Sio can’t really decide what’s harder – playing NRL or looking after his 13-month-old twin boys.
The Newcastle Knights winger admits the two pursuits present their own challenges, their own charms and their own chaos.
But undoubtedly both take the 26-year-old to his happy place where that trademark grin beams out for all to see.
“It depends, both have their days” Sio said with a smile.
“Some days you want to be away from them and you would rather play footy, but some days you just want to be around them and make sure they have everything they need. It’s the time I need away from footy.”
Sio and partner Vicki have tried to fit sons Roman and Rica with Knights headwear but to no avail because they “keep taking them off”, so red and blue onesies suffice.
It’s been part of setting up a new life in Newcastle.
Based at Dudley and regularly taking in the beach views from nearby Redhead and Merewether provides a stark contrast to the nor-east English club of Hull he came from last year or the western Sydney suburb of Merrylands where he grew up.
And this Friday night Sio returns to familiar territory when the Knights tackle his original NRL team the Parramatta Eels at the Olympic Stadium in Homebush.
The Wentworthville Magpies junior never played representative competitions like Harold Matthews and SG Ball and supported the Stacey Jones-led New Zealand Warriors, but remembers getting his blue and gold call up for under 20s when in the “old Bundy Cup”.
A few seasons later he made his first grade debut for Parramatta against the Gold Coast in the last regular round of 2011.
The likes of Eels skipper Tim Mannah, Corey Norman, Ken Edwards, Manu Ma’u and potential opposite number Semi Radradra remain at the Eels from Sio’s four-year and 57-match stint.
“I started my career there and came from there so it’s good going back down there,” Sio said.
“They’re all good blokes and did a lot for my career, but obviously when the whistle’s blown it’s game on.”
Sio will switch to the left edge of the field and partner Peter Mata’utia following the back injury to fullback Nathan Ross and return of recruit Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
“I’ve been going back and forth [all year] and it doesn’t really worry me,” Sio said.
“It’s pretty much the same thing. You’ve just got to understand how to work with the player inside you and what his best attributes are.”
As for Saturday afternoon’s less-than-ideal mistake, a knock-on from the kick-off, Sio made up for it with an impressive 151-run metres.
“As soon as I dropped it, I knew I had 79 minutes to improve on my game,” he said.
Sio is midway through his two-year contract at the Knights and said the influx of players and recent Wests ownership agreement were both beneficial for the club beyond 2017.