After an injury-riddled past couple of years, Joseph Vuna is ready to make his mark in first grade for the Gold Coast Titans. The back-rower recently spent the 2022 season recovering from an ACL injury he sustained playing in the Queensland Cup in 2021.
Signing hooker Sam Verrills from the Roosters and Joe Stimson from the Bulldogs, Titans coach Justin Holbrook now faces a difficult choice in deciding who he will want to include in the starting team.
Despite finishing 13th on the table last season, the Titans boast one of the best forward packs in the league, led by captain and Australian international Tino Fa'asuamaleaui.
Vuna credits his captain, marquee man David Fifita and 2022 breakout star Beau Fermor as the club's pack leaders and is hoping to learn from each one of them to become a better player and enhance his skills and is ready to learn from their experience.
"It's the little things they do; the attention to detail, the recovery they're doing, all those little things they're doing," Vuna said.
"It's their work ethic, not just on the field but off the field."
Vuna comes from a footy family, the younger brother of former Warriors and Newcastle Knights winger Cooper Vuna. After seven years in the NRL, Cooper became a dual international in rugby union, representing Australia and Tonga.
During his time in the NRL, Cooper scored 36 tries in just 59 appearances. Even though they play in different positions, Joseph, a former Junior Kiwi, is trying to replicate his brother's success as he enters his fifth season in the NRL.
"Wherever Justin [Holbrook] wants me to play, I'll play. Just as long as I'm in the team," Vuna continued.
"I want to be a consistent NRL player, so that's definitely my mindset leading into the new year and hopefully I can switch it on.
Currently in pre-season, the 24-year-old is hoping to stay fit after his recent troubles. Vuna joked with the media, saying this is the hardest pre-season he has been a part of in his young career.
"My legs were good. I felt fit, I felt strong," he said.
"First I have to keep myself healthy and fit and avoid getting injured.
"The last couple of years I've been here I've been injured so hopefully I can stay fit this year and get amongst it."