Tough year reignites flame for Toopi - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tough year reignites flame for Toopi

By Laine Clark 09/09/2010 06:50:49 PM Comments (0)

His incredible NRL comeback is now complete - but if Clinton Toopi had his time again, he would do it all very differently.

Not that the he has any complaints at the moment.

Adding another chapter to one of the season's feel good stories, Toopi, 30, re-signed with the Gold Coast Titans on Thursday for another year.

Life after football also looks taken care of with an off-field Titans role expected after 2011, working with Polynesian players on education and welfare.

And of course he will be a key for the Titans in their NRL finals blockbuster against his former side the New Zealand Warriors at Skilled Park on Friday night.

But Toopi revealed on Thursday that 2010 had been one of the toughest years of his life.

Leaving his family in New Zealand, Toopi rolled the dice and joined the Titans initially on a trial basis during the pre-season after a stint with Leeds in the UK Super League and Kiwi rugby union.

After snapping up a one-year deal, Toopi made his first NRL appearance in four years when he replaced an injured Mat Rogers in April.

And the former Kiwi international has not looked back - but there are still regrets.

"It (living away from family) has been that tough that I would never do it again - it's been a bit of a struggle," Toopi said.

"I am glad the club gave me times during the season to go home and catch up with the family, that has been a big help.

"But I wouldn't want to do that again."

His wife Turenga and daughters Waimania and Brianna are still based in New Zealand - but that will soon change.

"They will be over here in a couple of weeks so we will be starting to sort out a job for my wife - so if there are any teaching jobs out there?" Toopi laughed.

"Look, it's been a long road, there's been a lot of ups and downs but I am back in the NRL frame.

"Over the last few months things started falling into place.

"I have had a few (playing) opportunities, and my body started holding up.

"I thought 'well there is light at the end of the tunnel' - it ignited the flame again."

And it will no doubt be burning bright when he runs out against his former club on Friday night.

"I want to repay the faith that they have shown me, giving me a run so late and backing me," Toopi said.

Even his former Warriors coach Ivan Cleary - who let Toopi go way back in 2006 - couldn't hide his admiration.

"I reckon that is a great story," he said on Thursday.

"He put a lot on the line personally.

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