Summer rugby means pre-season training sessions – and the first games – take place in the depths of winter, but despite the shock of alien conditions, Wakefield Trinity recruit Pauli Pauli says he already feels at home.
The 23-year-old Australian, who is of Samoan descent, turned his back on summer Down Under and made his first appearance for Trinity in the 17-10 Boxing Day loss to Leeds Rhinos.
The game was played in a mixture of bright sunshine and wintry showers, but he insisted he relished the experience and is happy to be here.
“I’ve not played in the cold like that before, but it is going to be a good time for me here – I am going to enjoy it,” said the hard-hitting former Newcastle Knights prop.
“It is a lot different to Australia – it’s a lot warmer in Australia, but I like this weather. It makes me sleep better, so it’s all good.”
Pauli reckoned Boxing Day was a positive experience, despite the result.
He added: “It was good to get the cobwebs out of the way and to see the boys play and try to get the mistakes out of the way at the same time.
“The boys did good. Most of us are still new so we are still trying to learn how we play and how we move together. Hopefully the next two or three weeks are going to be better.”
Pauli – who has relatives in London, but does not qualify for a British passport – was also impressed with the reception he received from the Trinity supporters.
He is already becoming a fans’ favourite and was last into the showers after posing for pictures after the final whistle.
“It’s good to give something back to the fans,” he stressed.
“They supported me in the game and without them we would not be playing rugby league.”
That was no surprise, after homework carried out before he arrived.
He spoke to team-mate Tyler Randell, who joined Trinity from Newcastle last season and also Mickey Paea, now back at Hull for 2018 after a spell with Knights.
“They are my two good mates and they said I’d love it here, if you want to give it a crack come and try it here, so I thought I would take the chance and try something different,” he revealed.
Randell lasted just five minutes of the Boxing Day derby before hobbling off with medial knee ligament damage which will keep him out of action for at least 12 weeks, but Pauli predicted: “He will be back, he will get better
“I know he is very mentally strong so he will get back on the field really quick.”
Of his own prospects for 2018, Pauli is not making bold claims.
He said: “I am not expecting anything, to be honest. I just want the boys to perform. I am not an individual player, I like to play with the team and I hope we do well this year.”