Returning Hull FC centre Mane Fonua believes he is rejoining a much stronger Super League than the one he left behind in 2017.
The two-time Dream Team member is one of several high-profile signings in next year’s competition, which is expected to increase the profile and quality of Europe’s top league.
Speaking ahead of his second stint at the KCOM Stadium, Fonua believes the average age of NRL players considering Super League is younger than ever.
“I think it’s a great time for the Super League competition,” said the 26-year-old. “I know back then there was that aura that NRL players were coming over at the back end of their careers.
“But I think that, this time round, you see those names, Gareth Widdop and George Burgess and you take notice. You’ve got one of the Burgess boys coming over.
“A lot of other people as well, they’re really coming over here to test their ability. It’s just going to make the competition a lot better.”
Despite the majority of Super League team’s securing at least one big-name signing, newly-promoted Toronto have dominated the headlines with their capture of Sonny Bill Williams.
A superstar of both codes, ‘SBW’ is likely to attract a whole host of new supporters to the competition and Fonua cannot wait to come up against him.
“Sonny Bill’s a real good signing for Toronto as well as the Super League,” he said. “It’s only going to lift the marketing side of things and that’s good for the competition.
“I’ve played against him before, he probably won’t remember, but I tried to put a shot on him, he’s rock solid so I probably would’ve just fallen off.
“I think he’s 34, and he’s still playing and is strong as an Ox. I daresay he’s still trying to play his best footie at Toronto, and that’ll be good for Super League.
“He’s obviously still got the love for the game and I think he’s one of the oldest players in the competition, bar Gaz (Ellis). I don’t know how he keeps himself in such good nick.”
When two-time Challenge Cup winner Fonua departed Hull for the NRL in 2017, his then captain Gareth Ellis had just retired, however the 38-year-old is now back out on the field, much to the surprise of the returning Tongan.
“He had signed a CEO role when I left,” explained Fonua. “But then when I come back he’s playing again, it’s incredible really given the amount of footy he has played.
“You know he’s still one of the strongest and one of the fittest out there though and I’m glad to be playing alongside him again.”