NRL: NSW Cup stint boosted Asotasi

Roy Asotasi. Photo / Getty Images
Roy Asotasi. Photo / Getty Images

Roy Asotasi believes a spell in NSW Cup is the main reason for his strong showings for South Sydney since returning from another injury lay-off.

The New Zealand Test star tore his right pec in the round six win over Canterbury and was expected to be out for the rest of the season.

But after making a speedy recovery Souths coach Michael Maguire persuaded Asotasi it would be a good idea to feel his way back into action with Souths' feeder club North Sydney in reserve grade.

The prop, who will face Melbourne in Saturday's semi-final clash, admitted it was a move he would never have been able to make in previous seasons with the club always battling to make the top eight and needing him back as soon as possible.

But with Maguire guiding the club to the first finals campaign in five years, Asotasi was able to ease his way back into form and the 30-year-old believes it's one of the best decisions he's made.

"A couple of years back I would have been rushed straight back into the side," Asotasi told AAP.

"But I spoke to Madge when I was close to being fit again and as much as your head says you want to be a first-grader, the body was saying maybe you should have a couple of games in reserve grade.

"It was the right move, because had I been thrown straight back in I wouldn't have been able to give the team much and that would have been no good to no-one."

Asotasi joined the club as a marquee signing in 2007 from Canterbury, when he was acknowledged as the best prop in the world.

Having won a premiership in 2004, and playing 24 times for New Zealand, Asotasi said going back to park footy took some getting used to, but it had the desired effect.

"It was the right thing to do. I had to tell myself that wanting to be in the team because it was going well, wasn't going to help anyone," he said.

"It's tough mentally but because I've had a few horrific injuries you kind of get used to it.

"This means I go out and play I don't put much pressure on myself."

Asotasi has forced his way back into the starting line-up and forms part of a sensational forward pack that includes Sam Burgess, Mick Crocker and David Taylor.

With so many fine players around him, Asotasi is hopeful he can stay out of the medical room.

"It's no fun believe me, but instead of watching the boys and being down because you can't do a hit-up and make a tackle, you focus your mind getting back out there," he said.

"Anyone would want to play in this team, it's the best side in the six years I've been here and I want to play my part."

- AAP

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