'Never thought I'd be back' - Kata embracing Mt Smart return

Source: 1News

For much of Moana Pasifika, Mt Smart Stadium is a new home for them heading into their inaugural season - all except Solomone Kata.

The former Warriors star swapped codes back in 2019 and joined the Brumbies in Australia but after earning 15 Super Rugby caps opted to stay in Auckland with his young family last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I signed with the Brumbies for this year... but with the Covid situation and the borders closing - I've been through that for two years and it's pretty hard because my family is here in Auckland and I was in Canberra," Kata said.

"I gave my thanks to the Brumbies for letting me do that and supporting me through that situation.

"Thankfully, I found a club here and I can stay close to my family."

That club being Moana Pasifika, who Kata signed on with last November after managing to get some game time under his belt with Auckland in last year's NPC.

Solomone Kata with the Brumbies in 2020.

With the 2022 season quickly approaching, Moana Pasifika have gotten into preseason training at their home ground in Mt Smart - a venue Kata previously called home for four years during his time with the Warriors.

"I never thought I'd be back here but now here I am," he said.

"There's plenty of good memories here - this is where I started my professional rugby career. This is where it all started.

"I learned plenty from this place."

Kata said that learning wasn't just for on the field though.

"The first time I walked through this door in 2013, I was a young, fresh island boy who didn't know English at all.

"I was walking in here to play rugby league but I had no idea about anything at all... I took every opportunity with both hands.

"Looking back now, I've achieved so much and helped my family back in Tonga, travelled all over the world. I'm really grateful."

Solomone Kata scores a try at Mt Smart Stadium for the Warriors.

While Kata is one of the older members of the club with plenty of experience at the Penrose stadium, the 27-year-old said he isn't pulling rank in the squad.

"We all came here as islanders and we know where we stand - it doesn't matter if you've played for than 100 games.

"We still treat everyone with as much respect. I'm just a normal person."