Soliola moving with the times
After exceeding expectations in his NRL return last year Raiders veteran Sia Soliola says a shift of personal goals still has him on edge ahead of Canberra's season-opener against the Panthers.
Five years out of the NRL proved no hindrance for Soliola and even though he knows more what to expect from the competition in 2016 he was 50-50 on whether the removal of the unknown has left him any more settled.
A broken jaw also saw Soliola miss the final five games of last season, another factor he takes into consideration when approaching the year ahead.
"You're always going to want to lift that trophy at the end of the year so you're personally trying to figure out ways you can better yourself. But at the same time do it for the benefit of the team as well," Soliola told NRL.com.
"I was really happy with the way it all went [in 2015], other than the injury. This year I'm hoping for more the same. I just want to continue with my form and learn.
"I'm always learning with the game. Now the game is changing with the eight interchange it's going to be tough. We're going to have to be a bit smarter and be a bit tougher."
Utility back Sisa Waqa and Raiders recruit Jeff Lima aside, Soliola is one of the oldest cogs in the green machine.
Debuting in the NRL back in 2005 as an 18-year-old winger for the Roosters it's only now that Soliola can only truly respect what veterans such as Luke Ricketson and Craig Fitzgibbon were trying to tell him all those years ago in the way of motivation.
It is wisdom, especially at training, that Soliola is looking to instil in the younger Raiders moving forward.
"When I first started in the NRL, the older blokes always talked about the energy the younger ones always needed to bring. Now the roles are reversed, I can understand why they always said that because it always picks you up," Soliola said.
"It's like a breath of fresh air for us guys who have been in the game for a while. Hopefully they'll be in the same position as me one day and can pass on the same lessons to the younger generations.
"I can't fault any of these guys because they're great to help though. They are a bunch of enthusiastic young guys with a lot of energy. You can't ask for any more.
"With the game changing as well, they have to change with it and that's the challenge they have to expect. You have to look at other guys like Josh Papalii as well who is moving on to that leadership role to only improve as well."
One of the very few first choice players left uncontracted for 2017, Soliola, at 29, has a few good years left in him. But last year's Mal Meninga medal winner isn't stressing over what the future holds.
"I'm only 29, so worldly," he laughed.
"I'm happy where I'm at currently. Obviously the club and the manager will sort that out. I just need to keep focusing in on playing good footy.
"Whether it comes to me re-signing or moving on I'm not too sure but the club has been great for me and I can't fault anything they have done for me. In all due time, that will come."
This story first appeared on NRL.com