Just two years ago, Menzies Seumanutafa’s sporting career looked to be spiralling down to an end. Unfit and unmotivated the Auckland native was standing at a crossroads in his career.
“I was declining footy wise,” Seumanutafa said.
“I was bit unfit and a bit overweight so I wanted to have a fresh start and enjoy footy again.”
So Menzies decided to swap his Tumut Blues jersey for the red and black of the Tumut Bulls and try his hand at rugby despite not playing the 15-man game since he was 17 years old.
And his move paid off, becoming a pivotal part of the Bulls success this year and earning an impressive label from his coach, Brad Gorman.
“I would say he’s the best number 8 in the Southern Inland comp by a country mile,” Gorman said.
“He’s just carving it up having a great year, training hard he’s ultra fit and having a real dip.”
And representative coaches have also noticed his efforts on the field when Menzies was selected for the Brumbies Provincial side despite playing just one half in the Southern Inland rep trail.
Menzies is reaping the rewards of his hard work now in his second season with the Bulls, but it hasn’t been an easy transition having to re-learn the rules after spending most of his time playing Rugby League.
“Being born and bred in New Zealand we’re always brought up rugby,” Seumanutafa said.
“But I didn’t know the rules that well all I knew was how to tackle and how to run.
“The first year I came to the bulls I was learning the game, now this year I understand the game a lot more and I’m a lot more focused and my attitudes different too.
The Bulls are enjoying one of their best seasons in recent years and are genuine contenders to claim top honors at the end of the season in what would be a massive achievement for the club.
Despite the spotlight and fame not present in the Southern Inland comp as it is in higher-ranked competitions.
Menzies is still more determined than ever to push the Bulls towards a premiership and sees each game for the Bulls as more than “just a club game”.
“It’s one thing to just call it club footy and a lot of guys will say this is only club,” he said.
“But we don’t put our bodies on the line just to come last.
“I’m doing a bit extra training, I decided less partying and just trying to take footy a little bit more serious.”
And it’s the Bulls community that has sparked Menzies to lift his game, wanting to give back to the club.
“This club is just so family orientated and makes you feel so welcome,” he said.
“For me, I’m just so grateful for them to help me out and because they’re such great blokes I thought they deserve a bit more from me.
“I’ve been able to put something together these last couple years and try and give back.”
With plenty of young talent coming through the Bulls stocks, Menzies also wants to be a role model for the young upcoming stars.
“Some of these youngsters that we have coming through are top rank,” he said.
“They have a good chance if they have a good role model, I wouldn’t say I’m a great role model for them.
“But I believe myself I am playing a lot better than I have in other years and its defiantly something they can take away.”
It’s been a quick rise, but a long journey for Menzies to be playing at the level he’s reached this year.
And despite still waiting to hear back about his performance in the Brumbies Provincial match, his sights are set firmly on the Bulls and making sure they are in the hunt, come the end of the season.
“It’s the last couple of weeks coming off rep footy, now we’ve only got a handful of games left,” he said.
“I can only look forward to it and take it 100% serious. Really knuckle down and put in that little bit extra compared to the start of the year.”