Leeds Rhinos fan favourite Konrad Hurrell has his sights set on winning his first major trophy in the Challenge Cup Final this Saturday, and bringing the accolade back to his ‘second home’ of Leeds.
The 29-year-old joined the Rhinos ahead of 2019 and was an instant hit, with his powerful performances and infectious energy winning over the club’s fan base.
Hurrell never won a title during his stints with New Zealand Warriors and Gold Coast Titans in the NRL but was always hopeful his fortunes would change when he moved to the UK – an ambition that has heightened with how well he’s settled in West Yorkshire.
“Obviously knowing the club’s history, one of the reasons I wanted to come here was seeing them win all the trophies,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to win something like that before I retired so I’m buzzing I’ve finally got the opportunity to be involved in a final.
“Obviously wherever I go to, I try to make it feel like home. If I didn’t, I’d be getting homesick and that’s when you start thinking about other stuff and trying to leave where you’re at.
“I’ve been here for nearly two years and I feel like I am at home now, away from Tonga. The fans have been amazing and the club have been really good to me.
“Obviously this year’s been off for everyone, not just us and the fans, but we’ve come back to do what we love and they can’t come in and watch us. Winning this trophy, it means just as much to them even though they’re not there.
“They pay for some of our wages, they come to the games and support us. Obviously last year it wasn’t great for us but they still hung in there, turned up and filled the stadium.
“It was a bit weird not seeing them lately because in big games like this, it’s something to give back to them. I’m sure they’ll be there in spirit and we want to win this for them as well.
“Obviously some of the members didn’t refund their (season ticket) money; they kept it with us. They mean a lot to us so hopefully we’ll win this trophy for them.”
He may be over 10,000 miles away from his home country, but Hurrell still keeps in regular contact with his relatives back in Tonga.
It’s been a tough year for them, following the passing of his mother, but family still serves as one of the centre’s biggest motivations.
He added: “I’m sure they will be buzzing as well because, just like playing for Tonga against Australia or New Zealand in a World Cup, this is a massive achievement for me.
“When it’s late night, they always stay up and try find a way to watch the games.
“I just try keeping it normal when I speak to them; I try not to make a big fuss about it (the Final). I don’t want to get excited about it, then get there and be too exhausted.
“So I’m just trying to treat it as a normal week, doing the same preparation and not to hype myself up too much.
“Obviously I lost my mum this year, and pretty much all I’ve done is for her and my family. So to come to this stage and win, it would be a moment I’d never forget.
“Hopefully I’ll make them proud on Saturday.”