Sir Peter Leitch, aka the ‘Mad Butcher’, is probably best described as the patron saint of New Zealand Rugby League.
An ardent supporter of the Warriors and everything to do with the sport of rugby league New in Zealand, Leitch produces a regularly distributed newsletter promoting all aspects of the game ‘across the ditch’.
In the latest edition, Leitch’s writers, who include respected senior Australian journalist Barry Ross, covered the Sharks Grand Final victory, the Kiwi involvement at the Cronulla club over the years and the upcoming Four Nations Tour amongst other related topics.
Also included was a question and answer with Sharks star Sosaia Feki.
Normally one who is happier letting his football do his talking, mostly reluctant to put himself in the media spotlight, such would be Feki’s respect for Sir Peter he granted Laurie Reid a post Grand Final interview for the latest newsletter.
See what Feki had to say in the Sir Peter Leitch Club Newsletter. Anyone wanting to subscribe to future editions, see the details at the end of the interview.
Talking with Sosaia Feki
By Laurie Reid
SOSAIA FEKI moved to Australia as a 20-yearold, after starring for the Junior Warriors in the 2010 and 2011 Grand Finals. He signed on for a bottom tier contract at the Sharks – around $48,000 per annum – and endured a tough start in the Sutherland Shire but is now a NRL champion.
How does it feel to win a grand final?
It's the best feeling. It's a dream just to play in one and then to win it….that's amazing. It was a really tough game. We did our best and [on the night] that was enough. But I thought I was dreaming when we won. I was in shock to be honest.
Cronulla's start to the match was incredible – high intensity and brutal. Where did that come from?
I'm not too sure where that came from to be honest. We have been training like that for the last two weeks and then we went out there and shocked the Storm. They couldn't really handle us at the start. But they are a strong team. We knew they weren't going to go away and they came back well in the second half but thankfully we came out on top.
What does it mean to you to win a NRL title, to have that premiership ring on your finger?
It's very special. It's been a long journey for me. I won back to back [Under-20s] competitions at the Warriors then went through some ups and downs. I came here and then there was the ASADA scandal so to see us get to the top, I'm overwhelmed.
How hard was it to leave the field early in the second half?
Obviously I didn’t want to but I knew the knee wasn’t right. They slammed my knee into the ground (a tip tackle by Will Chambers) and I heard something click so it wasn’t good.
What was going through your mind in the last minute, when the Storm threw everything at you, launching wave after wave of attack?
I was sitting on the side line thinking this can't happen, `make that tackle'. Even when it was full time they were still passing the ball around - that was pretty scary - but as soon as the hooter went and they made that final tackle it was unreal. Everybody just jumped up and started celebrating.
Did you have some family support in the stands?
My brother and sister were there, and my best friend. My Mum wanted to come but she was too sick to fly. She is getting better, back at home and walking so she is getting stronger. But the trip would have been too much. [However] I called her from the dressing room and it was a proud moment to talk to her.
You’ve been at Cronulla since 2012. How comfortable are you there now?
I feel like I have found myself here at this club. I've been trying to work on myself and improve my game and I couldn't ask for better blokes to play alongside and to learn off.
When you look back now, how do you reflect on your departure from the Warriors?
Things happen for a reason…. that's footy. Clubs have to make decisions and at the time it is hard but you have to move on. Obviously things didn't work out at the Warriors but it's working out now. I'd love to stay at the Sharks, it's a great club.
Why has this season gone so well for you personally?
I've been working really hard on changing my mental approach and it has paid off. It's been about building confidence; when I made a mistake I used to get quite down on myself but the boys here always say “don't leave divots”. That is what I have been following; don't leave divots, try to move on as fast as I can. I’ve been working on that all year.
To subscribe to the Sir Peter Leitch Club Newsletter email Stephan Maier at [email protected]