With Dyldam Parramatta Eels prop Fuifui Moimoi leaving the Blue and Gold this season, we asked some of his teammates at the club to reflect on their memories of “the Steamtrain.”
With more than 200 games under Moimoi’s belt, after a career that spanned more than a decade and included representative honours for New Zealand and Tonga, former Eels captain Nathan Cayless says Moimoi’s hard work and character will always stick in his mind.
“There were many times over the years when we’d just be arriving at training and Fui would just be coming down from the gym,” Cayless said.
“He’d been on the treadmill for 20 minutes, half an hour, doing a footy simulation course that we had set up there on the treadmill.”
“It was tough for Fui. I’m sure he didn’t like the training, didn’t enjoy it. But he made that commitment to himself and to his family.”
“To be able to last for 200 matches, certainly his name is going to be right up there with the likes of Peter Sterling, Ray Price, Nathan Hindmarsh, Luke Burt. When they talk about Parramatta, a lot of people are going to talk about the name Fuifui Moimoi.”
“Just those charges that he put in, and the way the crowd rose whenever he carried the footy. There’s only some special people that can do that and Fui is certainly one of those.”
“I remember talking to Fui one day about trying to work on a little bit of a pass, and a bit of a side step, try to look after himself but he just said, ‘No, I love the smash, I love the smash.’ That’s what he said! He just loved running straight into blokes, and either him smashing them over or them smashing him. He just loved it.”
“And he became a real leader at the club,” Cayless added.
“This year he has taken the likes of Junior Paulo, Pauli Pauli, Kelepi [Tanginoa] under his wing and shown them the ropes and shown them what they have to do to become an NRL player. That’s a testament to Fui and the amount of hard work that he has put in.”
And away from the field, Cayless says his former New Zealand and Parramatta teammate has also been hiding wicked sense of humour.
“He’s got a wonderful sense of humour,” Cayless said.
“Not many people see it, but he loves snipping people’s undies and stealing thongs and all that sort of stuff, and loves playing practical jokes in the sheds.”
“He’s definitely an inspiration to the Tongan culture, a hero of the club and someone I look up to … and getting to know him, he’s a clown,” added 2014 Eels recruit Will Hopoate.
“Just always mucking around on the field, in the gym, stealing everything from everyone. I’ve loved getting to know Fui.”
“When he says he’s going to borrow something he’s borrowing it for life. That’s classic Fui!”
Eels fullback and co-captain Jarryd Hayne says along with the practical jokes, Moimoi also brings a gentle and generous heart.
“Fui’s awesome,” Hayne said.
“Fui’s probably got one of the softest hearts out of the boys. He definitely loves having a joke and we love having a joke with him, he’s probably one of the funniest blokes I know.”
“He tries to be quiet but he’s very cheeky and he’s just a great athlete as well; one of the most powerful athletes I’ve ever seen.”
And looking over Moimoi’s more than 200 games and success at the highest level of the game, Cayless says it’s hard to choose a standout from Fui’s long list of achievements on the field and off.
“To be able to play for his county and to be able to build a career out of rugby league,” Cayless said.
“To be able to pay for his mother’s house back in Tonga. The amount of charity work that he does and how generous the guy is. He was always asking for extra gear at training, but he wasn’t asking for it for himself. We all thought ‘oh he wants some extra gear’, but he was actually getting all the old boots and old gear and sending it back to Tonga to all the young kids back there.”
“He always felt a bit guilty when we’d ever go to team dinners and lunches we’d have, you know, food all over the table and he’d get a little bit upset because he’d be thinking about his family and his parents back in Tonga not having too much food. Some of the little things that we got to know about Fui show you how big a heart he has.”