Manly recruit Curtis Sironen has made the honest admission that he was getting stale and was resting on his laurels at the Wests Tigers, where his surname meant he had a lot to live up to.
Sironen has a big chance to re-ignite his stalled NRL career after a strong off-season that has him pencilled to start in the second row for the Sea Eagles in round one.
The 22-year-old was impressive in his first outing for Manly at last week’s Auckland Nines, and was initially shocked by the new colours but embraced the club’s rich history.
“It’s the first time I’ve had something that’s not a Tigers jersey on,” Sironen said.
“I’m gonna play with a lot of honour. As soon as I come to the club you can see there’s a lot of pride about playing for Manly. It’s a staunch club like that.”
Big things were expected of Sironen – the son of Balmain Tigers great Paul – after Tim Sheens handed him his first grade debut as a teenager in 2012, where he spent part of the year partnering Benji Marshall in the halves.
But he fell out of favour under Jason Taylor, making just eight appearances last year, before gaining a release from the final two years of his deal and moving to Manly.
Paul Sironen played 246 games in the black and gold and represented Australia and NSW.
“A fresh start is something that I needed. I was getting a bit stale there. I wasn’t training as hard and started making a few excuses for myself, thinking I was going better than I was,” he said.
“It was a bit of reality shock coming to Manly. No one cares what you’ve done or who you are. It’s just about how hard you train. I just want to try and cement a starting spot now for NRL.”
Built with the size of a back-rower but the skills of a halfback, Sironen said new coach Trent Barrett spent the summer encouraging him to bring out his creativity, and he responded with a two-try effort in Auckland.
“He just wants me to play, use my best qualities. I still have to do all that tough stuff out the back of the field like backrowers do these days,” he said.
“If I get to play a bit creative like I can, so be it. ‘Baz’ has been really good. He was half the reason I went here. Just a good guy first, then a good coach.”