Heketoa recruited by Swifts
DAVID Heketoa has big shoes to fill.
The 31-year-old New Zealander has been recruited by Swifts to replace the one player who is virtually irreplaceable.
Wes Conlon would have been Ipswich Rugby League player of the year last season if not ruled ineligible by suspension.
He was the game’s most devastating runner but his value to Swifts was much greater than that.
He was the one barking orders to team mates throughout games and had the ability to adapt from fullback to five-eighth just before finals and guide his team to a premiership.
Now he has gone to try his hand in the Queensland Cup, Heketoa has to fill the void.
When he moved to Australia three months ago, the former Papakura Sea Eagles five-eighth/fullback had no thoughts of playing competitively.
He moved to Australia to start a new life with his wife and two daughters, but the lure of league got the better of him.
Heketoa lives at Springfield Lakes and works at the Rocklea markets and was fortunate his employers were not flooded.
He had received interest from Queensland Cup clubs, including the Ipswich Jets, but chose to head to Swifts to play with his mates.
“I knew a few of the boys,” he said.
“Robbie Hill, Ned Walters and Tori Potini.”
Now he is back in training, he is as keen as ever.
“I just want to play well, to be honest, to thank the club for signing me,” he said.
Heketoa has been in Australia since November and has had time to acclimatise, so pre-season training is not proving too troublesome.
“I went back home for my touch team last week,” he said.
“It was hot there, which was pretty different.
“But I was grateful for the training I’d done here.”
Heketoa will be expected to provide the direction and cutting edge Conlon did so successfully in 2010 at five-eighth or fullback.
“Both are leadership positions,” Heketoa said.
“I don’t think the footy is as physical as NZ but I hear it’s a bit quicker.”