Why Sione Tui is ready to carve out a career in rugby

When Sione Tui graduated from high school last year, there was no doubting what he wanted to do.

The former St Kevin’s College student is making the most of his first year out of school, earning himself a spot in the Melbourne Rising squad for the 2018 NRC competition.

The 19-year-old, who starred in the Melbourne Unicorns’ Dewar Shield premiership side, which included a dazzling length of the field try, is certainly not overwhelmed by the challenges of senior rugby.

When reflecting on his inaugural season of first grade rugby, Tui says he surprised himself by how comfortable the transition from schoolboys’ rugby to the Unicorns has been.

“First year out of school, I wasn’t sure what club to play for and I found my way to the Melbourne Unicorns,” Tui said.

“Being with a group of new boys and new faces I guess that was something that I thought would be tough, but it was something I found really exciting.”

“To play with older players, especially leaving schoolboy rugby to play against full grown men was probably the toughest part about it, but I had a good group of boys around me as well.”

Tui’s initial passion for rugby started when he played under 8’s for Power House Rugby Union Club.

After plying his trade in the juniors for seven years, Tui enrolled at St Kevin’s College, where the bulk of his latter under age rugby was played.

However, Tui’s original motivations to move to the prestigious boy’s school weren’t driven by rugby.

“I guess the only reason I went there initially was for school and a bonus was they played rugby,” Tui said.

“Playing rugby there helped me make it into (Victorian) schoolboys under 18’s, which I was lucky enough to captain.”

Outside of rugby, Tui is enrolled as a university student, studying a Bachelor of Business and Sports Management at Victoria University.

While he initially struggled to commit to a professional sporting program and tertiary studies, Tui says he is learning quickly about how to handle both things at once.

“Adapting from club training to professional rugby sessions, which has gone from two times a week to five times a week, has been the toughest part about it,” he said.

“The university have helped me a lot. They’ve changed my schedule around a lot to help me with my schedule at training.”

Tui is no stranger to the Melbourne Rebels fraternity, having represented the club’s under 20’s team in the 2017 Super 20’s Championships.

It’s why Tui is so excited about being a home-grown player in the Melbourne Rising team for 2018, and he’s certainly out to make his mark.

“I’m very proud and lucky enough to be one of the few Victorian born players to go through the development pathway in Victorian rugby,” he said.

“Every training session, I try to prove a point and learn from all the older boys and add that to my skills and hopefully I get the chance to be selected and play in one of the games.”

Looking ahead to where he wants to take his rugby, Tui has aspirations to go beyond the NRC and craft a career in Super Rugby.

However, if an opportunity comes knocking for a spot on a Super Rugby list, Tui hopes it’s for the team he’s grown up supporting.

“In the next few years, I hope to be playing for the Melbourne Rebels,” Tui said.

“I want to be one of the home-grown players to have gone through the development pathways and put on that Rebels jersey for sure.”