Toronto Wolfpack’s Reni Maitua has confirmed his retirement as a player in order to take up the role of Player Welfare Manager at the club.
After originally retiring at the conclusion of Leigh Centurions’ promotion winning 2016 campaign, the former NRL star spent a year out of the game before lacing up his boots once again, joining the Wolfpack on a short-term deal amidst a number of injuries in the forwards.
At 35 years of age and seemingly out of touch with the game, the decision to bring in Maitua raised a few eyebrows in rugby league circles. However, the experienced backrower hasn’t missed a beat for the Wolfpack, playing in eight matches and has been a fantastic presence at the club both on and off the field.
Maitua looks as if he’s never been away and contributed two tries in Toronto colours but will now hang up the boots once again, using his influence and experience in the game to make the transition upstairs to become a club official.
Though it seems a shame that the NRL premiership winner and Australian and Samoan international may not take to the field in a Wolfpack jersey again, this is only the beginning of Maitua’s involvement at the club.
Toronto fans will now see one of the sports’ most well recognised and respected stars continue to develop the positive influence he has had on the club’s culture and identity already, and will keep in very close ties with the players and coaching staff.
Maitua exemplifies what it is to overcome adversity and knows what it takes to be the model professional on the field. He is also a highly thought of person off it and will take up a hands on role, focusing on player welfare, with the view of supporting the players in overcoming any challenges both in and away from being a professional sportsman.
He will also play a big role in aiding the Wolfpack’s involvement in both the Canadian community and will act as a liaison between the club and parts of the rugby league family in both hemispheres.
Reflecting on his time at the club so far, the former Parramatta Eels captain was excited to embark on a new chapter in his Wolfpack journey, looking to draw on the experiences from his career so far to help those around him. He said:
“What an experience it has been to be part of a club that is making history. It’s been an absolute pleasure to wear the Wolfpack jersey.”
“Moving forward I have the privilege of being able to help create a culture and brand that represents Toronto and Canada as a whole as well as supporting our players and staff through any life experiences, both good and bad, on and off the field.
“I’ve certainly been through the very highest of highs but also the lowest points in life. I don’t need a degree to share my own personal triumphs and failures.
“To put a smile on people’s faces is extremely rewarding and part of my vision is to make everyone in our team at least 10% a better person in life. This will hopefully help for the greater good and our team in our community.
“Having said that I’ll never say this is my final farewell. I’ll continue to train with the team be a leader for this great club.”
Toronto Wolfpack Head Coach Paul Rowley had nothing but praise for Maitua’s impact on Toronto Wolfpack and had no doubt that the appointment of such a big personality in the game into the backroom staff would do wonders for the club. He said:
“Bringing Reni to the club was always to initially cover the injury to Cory Paterson in game one whilst adding a short term injection of experience and professionalism to the group.
“For a club still in its infancy but motivated to progress at pace, we required a respected and well connected person to act as a conduit to the player pool in the Southern Hemisphere, this was the second but equally important reason for bringing him to Toronto.
“With Cory’s return to fitness last week the time for Ren to step over the line and into a new exciting role within our off field team has now arrived.
“Reni will also work within other aspects of the business providing support to players and coaches and enabling us to add a world class person in our effort to enhance our commitment within the community.
“I’d like to thank Reni for his efforts and commitment on the field and for wearing our jersey with pride and now welcome him to the staff.”