Generational talent and cross-code star Isaiya Katoa has opened up on his decision to join The Dolphins from the Penrith Panthers.
Widely considered the best prospect in rugby league, it was a shock to many fans when Katoa was unveiled as a new signing for The Dolphins last year. Coming from the Panthers' junior system, which has produced the likes of Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary, many believed that he would stay there long-term.
However, Katoa admitted last week that he saw no opening in the Penrith starting team. Having to contend with Luai and Cleary, it would have been difficult for him to cement his spot in the side.
"The reason I came to the Dolphins was I knew there was an amazing opportunity to get a fresh start somewhere else," Katoa said, speaking at a Dolphins press conference.
"Being at Penrith, with the success they've had the past two years, their halves pairing is pretty locked in for the next five years. I knew myself that it was probably going to take me a while to get to the top."
A playmaker that has exponential potential, Katoa has already made his debut at the international level. He started in three games for Tonga during the World Cup, where he could be seen as the top three players on the field.
Coming from the famed Barker College in New South Wales, the prodigy had a great 2022 across rugby league and rugby union. He led Barker College to win the CAS title whilst also winning the premiership with the Panthers Jersey Flegg and NSW cup side.
This earnt him honours of becoming selected into the Australian Schoolboys team. Heading into 2023, Katoa is the biggest name to not yet make his first-grade debut.
Impressed by The Dolphins squad, Katoa will contend against former Penrith teammate Sean O'Sullivan, Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford for one of the two halves positions. Selected in the starting team for their first trial game, he will be looking to impress the coaching staff at his new club.
The coaching staff at The Dolphins is made up of Wayne Bennett, Kristian Woolf and Nathan Fien. Katoa is no stranger to playing under Woolf, who coached Tonga but is excited to have Bennett on as a coach.
"Having a coach like Wayne here at this new club was very inspiring," he said.
"As a young kid you grow up wanting to play under the best coach and learn from the best … there's no other man like Wayne in terms of coaching."
"He was a massive reason I came over to Redcliffe. I'm pretty excited."