Sa’aga still pinching himself in dream season
Twelve months ago Fereti Sa’aga wasn’t sure what the future had in store for him and his young family.
The only guarantee was that the Melbourne-born prop was going to leave nothing to chance during a pre-season with the Rebels.
The 22-year-old had his sights set on a Super Rugby debut off the bench but never did he imagine what was to come.
On Monday, the rising star capped off a remarkable maiden season with a two-year contract extension with the club.
“It’s good to have a little bit of security now so I can knuckle down for the next two years to focus on footy and help bring some wins to the Rebels next year,” Sa’aga said after putting pen to paper.
“I’ve only been taking it game by game and I haven’t had the opportunity to reflect on the game yet but it’s been a massive blessing.
“Last year and throughout pre-season I didn’t really expect anything like this to happen but it’s happened so quickly.
“My family and I are excited to take every opportunity.”
After he impressed coaches during pre-season, the father of three saw his dream come true with a Super Rugby debut off the bench in Round 2 against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
And that was just the start.
The Victorian made his first Super Rugby start in front of family and friends the following week against the Chiefs before going on to record 10 appearances, including six starts, before the international break.
“I’m excited for every game because it’s a new experience and new opportunity for me,” Sa’aga said.
“During pre-season, all I was thinking about was trying to get a spot on the bench.
“I got that opportunity in Wellington but was gutted because I thought that would be my first and last game and I wanted to play here at home in front of a home crowd with family and friends.
“Then (forwards coach) Zane (Hilton) sat me down after the Canes game and said he liked what I offered and told me that he wanted to start me.
“From then on, I started to pinch myself and couldn’t believe what was happening.”
With his future secure for the next two years, the home-grown talent said he looks forward to more time with his family and help young locals to follow in his footsteps to achieve their own rugby dreams.
“Now as a professional rugby player, I’ve got more time now to spend with my family and invest in my brothers and other young players,” Sa’aga said.
“I’ve got a couple brothers playing footy, including my younger brother Alex who is currently with the Victorian team at the Australian Schoolboys Championships.
“Personally, the next two years I’ll try to push the boundaries, try to impress on the Super Rugby stage and win some games for the Rebels.”
After a four-week international Test hiatus, the Melbourne Rebels return to action when they travel west to take on the Western Force at nib Stadium in Perth on Friday 7 July from 7.55pm (AWST).