DOGS CALL: Ipswich Jets product Tautalatasi Tasi is stepping into the unknown as he joins NRL club the Bulldogs this week.Claudia Baxter
TAUTALATASI Tasi has continued a long tradition for Ipswich rugby league.
He is the latest of the production line of Ipswich footballers to head to Sydney to try and crack it in the toughest rugby league competition in the world.
This week Tasi has headed down the trail blazed by Noel Kelly in the early 1960s, and followed by the likes of Pat O’Doherty, Chris Beattie and Tasi’s own big brother Lama more recently.
Tasi has been playing for the Ipswich Jets in the Queensland Cup for just over a year, impressing with his willingness on the wing.
He said he had no time frame for when he hoped to break into the NRL so to happen so soon came as a surprise to the 19-year-old.
“I didn’t think it was coming,” Tasi said.
“I got a surprise call and it was the Doggies.”
They didn’t have to do too much to convince him to sign.
“I never looked back,” Tasi said.
“It’s a dream come true.
“I was pretty speechless.
“Now I’ve got to grab it with two hands.”
Tasi will begin his career as a Bulldog in the under 20 side.
But the fact he has signed a two-year-deal shows the 19-year-old will be seriously considered for the top grade if he perform as expected.
The former Australian Schoolboys rugby union back-rower expects to be used in the backs by the Bulldogs, but doesn’t care where they play him.
“I’m comfortable anywhere,” he said.
Tasi becomes the second player in his family to join an NRL club, after big brother Lama.
Lama was afflicted by homesickness when he joined the Sydney Roosters and Tautalatasi hopes to avoid some of the pitfalls his brother experienced.
“I’ve learned a lot from him,” Tasi said.
“Like learning independence and being a man.”
But he is not getting ahead of himself, knowing he still has much to do to prove himself as an NRL player.
“My family are proud I’ve got my foot in the door,” Tasi said.
“It’s a one-time opportunity and you don’t know when the next one will come around.”
He has faith, however, that he can make it, and won’t be changing his approach to the game.
“I’ll go with the same mindset,” he said.
“I won’t change anything, just play my game.
“Hopefully I can learn more to become a better player.
“At the end of the day I’m confident.”