Kiwi centre was forced to kick his heels while red tape was cut through
MISI Taulapapa cannot even dream of reaching Wembley just yet – just being able to play is enough after red tape brought his career shuddering to a halt.
The Featherstone skipper found himself unable to train or play with his team-mates, or even do his ‘day job’ with Rovers’ foundation after his visa ran out.
A cock-up between different administrations – with one man who had the information needed to complete the paperwork leaving – left the New Zealander kicking his heels.
Now his visa has gone through and Taulapapa, who became a father during the saga, can even see his enforced absence may have a benefit.
“The club needed some information and had to go back to a former chief executive for it, which meant I was stuck in the middle,” Taulapapa explained.
“Because of that, I couldn’t go through every question on the form. I did everything I could but it was frustrating.
“It was hard because there was a lot of things I couldn’t do. I couldn’t train with the team, I certainly couldn’t play and I couldn’t do my work with the foundation either.
“That was the hardest part to be honest. I couldn’t go into the schools and do my work with the kids.”
Taulapapa was eventually given the green light to resume playing, although he admits he felt like he ‘had been hit by a bus’ after his first game against London.
Now he can turn his attentions to the Challenge Cup as Jon Sharp’s Championship side aims to book a place in the last eight.
Just putting on a performance that shows what they can do will be enough for the winger after last year’s flop in the Qualifiers.
Taulapapa added: “Last season, we were on TV against Leeds, Batley and London and we didn’t show our best.
“People didn’t see the best of us. Playing on TV can add a bit of pressure and we didn’t cope well with it. This time, though, we feel we can produce our best.
“Wembley is not even a thought at the moment, though. I’m still trying to find my feet. Let’s just get the win then see who we get next if we do.”
After missing Rovers’ first nine matches of the season, through no fault of his own, Taulapapa is starting to see the possible benefits of his absence.
Currently second in the Championship, Featherstone are in line to face Super League’s bottom four in the Qualifiers.
But that means seven more games after 23 rounds and the possibility of a place in the Million Pound Game that could decide promotion.
Add Cup commitments on top of that and it is easy to see why there could be a perverse benefit.
Taulapapa said: “Last year, I was a bit burned out going into the Qualifiers and they were tough.
“With everything here, you could be talking about playing almost 40 games in a season – in the NRL you only play 24.
“Almost 40 games is crazy but because of everything at the start of the year, it could mean I’m feeling much better if we get there again.
“That could be the one positive from it all.”
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