Solomone Kata doesn't go well on buses

By Michael Burgess in Birmingham

Warriors and Kiwis centre Solomone Kata. Photo / Getty Images.
Warriors and Kiwis centre Solomone Kata. Photo / Getty Images.

Kiwis' centre Solomone Kata isn't a good traveller.

It's a little ironic, given the remarkable journey he has been on over the last few years, but Kata doesn't go well on buses. Nor boats, cars, or sometimes even trains.

As the Kiwis have been traversing England in the last two weeks, Kata can usually be found towards the back of the team bus, looking a bit green.

"I love being around the boys and being on tour but I am not good at long [journeys] on the bus," Kata told the New Zealand Herald. "I feel sick...maybe like I want to [vomit]. It's very bad but can't do anything about it."

Already, in less than a fortnight, the team has travelled from London to Leeds to Manchester to Birmingham (as well as two return trips to Huddersfield from Leeds), a total of around 600 km on the bus.

"I don't tell them so they don't stop the bus," said Kata. "I sit still [and] drink water, otherwise I feel like I might be sick. Every bus journey I feel the same but I can control it.

I'm no good on the boat as well...that's the worse one."

His motion sickness has been the only downside of an otherwise impressive start to the tour for the 21-year-old. After being one of the few Kiwis to escape with their reputations intact in Perth, Kata gave another solid display in last Sunday's 17-16 win over England.

He locked up the left edge defensively, making some important interventions, and didn't miss a tackle all day. And his back slamming effort on opposite Dan Sarginson midway through the second half was a momentum-changer, as his opponent seemed to lose confidence after that.

It's been a remarkable start to his Kiwis career for Kata, but should we have expected any less? He has handled every challenge thrown his way since he came into the sport just four years ago.

After growing up in Tonga, Kata came to New Zealand on a rugby scholarship in 2011. He arrived at Mt Smart in 2013, tore up the NYC competition and has since scored 27 tries in 45 NRL games for the Warriors over the last two seasons.

His quiet demeanour - his English has improved markedly but he is still comfortable in the background - belies a steely focus. It's hard to remember another player handling the step up to test football from such a limited experience base. Maybe Thomas Leuluai (2003) was one, Kieran Foran (2009) another, but usually there are much longer adjustment periods. But Kata is tough; not just physically, 97 kilos in a power packed frame, but also mentally, and doesn't do distractions.

"When the game starts my mind is on that game for the whole 80 minutes, said Kata. "Even if I do something wrong, for me there is no time to think about what you have done, just move on at the same time. Even if you have a good or bad game from the start, just keep going. Don't think about it...I don't take a second to think about it."

Evidence of that ability came in July last year against the Roosters, when Kata was marking representative centre Blake Ferguson. Ferguson schooled the rookie in the first half, beating him three times as the commentators talked about "men against boys". But Kata, far from beaten, showed he had learned in the second half, shutting Ferguson down completely and making several determined runs himself.

Kata will face Ferguson, and other intimidating names like Greg Inglis, Josh Dugan and Darius Boyd on Sunday (NZT) in Coventry, as the Kiwis aim to avenge the 26-6 defeat three weeks ago.
"It's pretty hard [facing them] but you got to do it," said Kata. "You have to do your job for the team. I need good communication with my insides and outsides [and the] same mindset I've always had."


"I'm looking forward to it. We were disappointed in Perth but I know we will improve what we did then. I think we can beat them."

Autex - Proud sponsors of New Zealand rugby league since 1981

- NZ Herald

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