Reds prop Feao Fotuaika has shown his true commitment. (Brendan Hertel, QRU)
Reds prop Feao Fotuaika has shown his true commitment. (Brendan Hertel, QRU)

Fotuaika’s hunger to rebuild his body

WHEN demolition worker Feao Fotuaika talked himself out of retirement last year, the deep desire to honour his late brother was too powerful to let go.

Prop Fotuaika has lost a remarkable 15.5kg in four months to create his unlikely chance with the Queensland Reds for deeply personal reasons.

A body that was once fuelled by McDonalds, his love of ice cream and four sugary energy drinks a day has been drummed into shape by sheer willpower.

Literally, he has shed the body weight of more than 300 of his favourite ice creams to be in the blocks to face the Chiefs in Friday night's final trial at Ballymore.

"I want to finish off my brother's legacy … I'm playing for family," the quietly spoken Fotuaika, 25, said.

Coach Brad Thorn set the giant prop a target of losing 10kg to even be considered for a Reds contract late last year.

"I was 25, working on demolition jobs as a labourer and there was nothing at the door rugby-wise so I was close to finishing up," Fotuaika said.

"I remember clearly sitting down on a Friday with Brad and 'Crapper' (scrum coach-physiotherapist Cameron Lillicrap).

"They took a chance on me and said if I lost 10kg, if I was ready to change some bad habits, they'd consider me for a contract."

The prop has lost the equivalent of 15.5kg of his favourite ice creams. (Brendan Hertel, QRU)
The prop has lost the equivalent of 15.5kg of his favourite ice creams. (Brendan Hertel, QRU)

That mountain might have been too much to climb for an unfit forward of 143.5kg but for the inner motivation that he tapped from the darkest day of his life.

Older brother Mosese was just 20 when he took his own life in 2013 on a training day in Sydney when on the verge of an NRL career at the Wests Tigers.

The moment devastated Fotuaika's close-knit Kiwi-born family who had advanced their kids' footy dreams at Keebra Park High on the Gold Coast.

There were tears. Lots of tears. Every bullocking ball carry and tough sprint in fitness drills at the Reds is a part-nod to his lost sibling.

Kid brother Moeaki, 19, broke into the NRL last season and the hurt is fuel for his own rise with the Gold Coast Titans.

"My little brother plays for the Titans and we both do it for our family and Mosese," Fotuaika said.

Reds high performance boss Brynley Abad is delighted by Fotuaika's zeal.

"He's put his head down, he's fit, he's professional and his few words are from the heart … losing that weight is phenomenal," Abad said.

Fotuaika saw the difference himself last Friday in Ballarat when he started in the trial against the Melbourne Rebels and scored his first try since 2015.

"I'm more mobile, I can keep up with the pace of the game and feel like I'm playing my best footy since school," the 2011 Australian Schoolboy said.

It's a huge statement on the work ethic at the Reds because back-up prop Gavin Luka has shed more than 20kg to get in shape after major arm and knee injuries

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