Waqa happy to wing it at Raiders
After a year spending more time filling in at centre and fullback than his preferred spot on the wing, Raiders outside back Sisa Waqa is looking forward to sticking out on the flanks in 2016.
The former Melbourne flyer scored three tries in seven games on the wing in his first season in Canberra, and three tries in 12 games filling in in the centres (with a further two games starting at fullback).
Aside from a couple of starts from the bench, Waqa lined up on the wing in all of his 67 games for the Storm from 2011-14, and that's where he sees himself for the immediate future following Canberra's mid-season recruitment of Joey Leilua last year and the emergence of Brenko and Edrick Lee.
With club captain Jarrod Croker a lock for one centre spot, Waqa's focus needs to be on holding out his younger competition just to keep a wing spot, whilst also making sure as a senior player he provides mentoring and encouragement to his less experiences clubmates.
"I'm one of the senior boys here, especially in the outside backs. Everyone's got their personal goals and what they try to achieve," Waqa told NRL.com.
"For me the main thing is to get fit, stay healthy and that's what I've been doing. We've got talented young fellas coming through. It's always great to be one of the senior boys in the team and we've been working well together.
"It is a big challenge for myself [to provide leadership]. We've got talented young fellas, 'BJ' [Leilua] and Brenko, [Jordan] Rapana's there, big Eddie [Edrick Lee].
"For me the main thing is just to make sure I'm doing the right thing and help them as much as I can and making sure we're all doing the same thing in regards to what we need to achieve personally and as a team."
While always happy to play wherever the coach wants him to, Waqa doesn't see himself shifting from wing much this year.
"Last year I played a bit in the centres, on the wing and a little bit at the back. From my point of view the main thing is wherever 'Sticky' [coach Ricky Stuart] wants to play me I'll do the job as well as I can but I still see myself as a winger and that's why I came here for.
"Obviously we have BJ here and everyone knows how good he is when he's on. The ability and the talent that he has and obviously Brenko Lee, so it would be good to go back on the wing.
"I've always seen myself as a winger. I've been training on the wing a little bit in the centres the last few weeks but I want to see myself back on the wing in the trials and Round 1."
Despite some reports Waqa was looking at getting out of the rest of his Raiders contract late last year, Waqa said he is very happy to be tied to the Raiders until the end of 2017. The 29-year-old added he would be happy to see out his playing career in lime green.
"There were talks happening last year but I love it here, especially the boys, the group, the club, we've got a good bunch of boys here, we've got a healthy squad here. I'm just focusing on staying here," he said.
"I've still got one year left on my contract to run. We'll see what happens from there. I'm locked in for this year and got an option for next year. Those things are always at the back of your mind considering my age but I'm just focusing on the next day and I'll take each day at a time and see what it leads me into.
"It would be good to finish my career here. With the group we have it's always exciting. For me as someone who's been around for a while, to see the talent we have in the team it would be good to finish my career here but that's for the club to decide."
This article first appeared on NRL.com