Along with Martin Taupau and Ava Seumanufagai, Sauaso Sue spent the majority of 2014 as part of an aggression-filled, bone-crunching interchange bench that sought to break down their opponents in every possible way — and with some success.
Under a new Head Coach in Jason Taylor in 2015, that “bench from hell” is seemingly no more, with both Taupau and Sue called into the starting side, and the 22-year-old Samoan international moved from the middle of the field to the edge.
Become a Member and get entry to our Easter Monday game PLUS four more games at ANZ Stadium this year for just $65!
And while it’s taken some getting used to, Sue says he couldn’t have been happier with the positional decision Taylor has made for him since he came to the Club.
“I’m really enjoying it this year on the edge,” Sue said about his move.
“Playing back-row, there’s a lot more decision making and things to try to build on from that. For me, it’s a much better feeling because you’re starting in the team.
“But I guess it’s a lot tougher in that sense too. You’ve got a bigger role to play and that means there’s more pressure on you, especially in defence.
“That’s tougher than the middle. I’ve really got to help my edge and help Mitch as much as I can. He makes pretty good decisions in defence, though, so that helps.
"My role on the edge is to press halves and try to shut down their movement as much as possible, so I guess just understanding the bigger picture of the game and more of what happens has been the biggest challenge for me this year but I’m really enjoying it.”
The 22-year-old Sue, who spent time in the Samoan international camp during the 2014 Four Nations, revealed he knew from the moment he re-joined the team after Christmas that Taylor was planning to move him from the middle of the field to the edge in 2015.
“It’s been helpful having the whole off-season knowing I was playing back-row,” he said.
“I think that was helpful because it meant I wasn’t so much about trying to put on size but more about my fitness. JT and the coaching staff have really helped with that and my positioning about where I need to be on the field and the decisions I need to make.
“My fitness is way better than last year.”
The numbers certainly back up the decision made by Taylor to move the Macquarie Fields junior to the edge as well as Sue’s admission of his increased fitness.
Sue’s 53 minutes in Round 1 against the Titans saw him make 34 tackles at a 100-percent completion rate, while his 64 minutes in Round 2 saw him procuce that number and completion rate again, as well as 106 metres on the ground from his nine hit-ups.
“I remember that Round 1 game,” he laughed. “I think I played 50-something minutes and that, at the time, was the most minutes I’ve ever played before.
“That Souths game two weeks later was the first time I’ve ever played the full 80 minutes.
"And then last week, I nearly got through 50 minutes playing in the middle, which we did to try and cover for Woodsy [Aaron Woods] a bit. That was tough but fun."
Four games in to the 2015 season, Sue has averaged 61 minutes, 12 runs, 107 metres, 35 tackles per game — all for just one error and no penalties conceded.
And for that, the prop-turned-lock-turned-back-rower has nothing but praise for Taylor.
“I know that if it wasn’t for the work JT and the staff have done with me, there’s no way I could have done that last year if I was asked to play prop or the 80 minutes,” he said.
“They’ve pushed me really hard to see the best out of me, and they told me all along that they wanted to see 80 minutes from me sooner rather than later.
“JT has been really supportive and helpful in teaching me how I can improve my skiil I think being on the edge now, it’s really important for me to have better skills than when I was in the middle, so he’s really helping me with all those improvements.”
“Personally, I think yes, I’m 100 percent a better football now than I was 12 months ago.
“I think I’ve come a long way in improving my game, and I’m loving the opportunity to learn more and more every game playing with some really talented guys.”
Wests Tigers will look to bounce back from a last start defeat when they take on the Parramatta Eels in Round 5 at ANZ Stadium on Easter Monday, with kickoff at 3:00pm.
Get entry to that game, and four more at ANZ this year, for just $65 by clicking here.