Curtis Rona opted to stay in rugby to embark on some unfinished business and the former Force centre is in the swing of doing just that in Sydney.
Rona opted to sign with the Waratahs after the Western Force’s axing, with a view to being a part of Michael Cheika’s 2019 Rugby World Cup squad, and linked up with his new teammates at the start of January.
The move marks the beginning of a new, but familiar, chapter for Rona, who lived in Sydney during his three-year NRL stint.
Though the idea of moving his family across the country for the second consecutive year was not that attractive, Rona has moved his focus firmly forward with the Waratahs.
“My idea was trying to play in Perth for two years,” he said.
“It wasn't the case with the culling of the Force and I was pretty disappointed in the result for me personally.
“I grew up in WA and loved playing rugby over there and my wife's family’s there and everyone's settled and to get back up and move again was pretty hard.
“I know Sydney pretty well and all the boys have been more than welcoming at the Tahs and the coaching staff have gone over and above for me and helping me out wherever I need it.”
Rona had a taste of Test rugby in 2017, with three Tests for the Wallabies, including a brutal initiation in the first Bledisloe in Sydney, and the former Canterbury Bulldogs wing is desperate for more.
“When I put on the gold jersey it was a massive achievement and I didn't want to let that slip away again, I just wanted to regain a spot in the Wallabies team and by doing that, coming to the Tahs and staying in rugby was the only option,” he said.
Rona is likely to slot into 13 for the Waratahs, combining with the enigmatic Kurtley Beale, keen to push his credentials for that spot at Test level down the track.
“I’ll play centre here for the Tahs and ultimately nail a spot down this season and that's one of my main goals for this season, making sure I put my best foot forward and get myself ready for the up and coming Super Rugby season.
The 25-year-old is making the most of a chance to train alongside Israel Folau as well, a man he counts as one of his strongest influences at his new club.
“He's definitely an awesome guy and he's got a lot of time for people and he's in a similar position as me in the outside backs,” he said.
“It's a lot easier to connect with somebody in the same positions and he's been really good for me, whenever I've needed help getting around and helping me out on the field.”
The Waratahs open their Super Rugby season against the Stormers on Saturday February 24, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT. Buy tickets here.