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NRL star's tearful return to union was 'now or never'

By Online Editors
Tepai Moeroa

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Tepai Moeroa has revealed it took him three hours of pacing back and forth in front of Brad Arthur’s office to pluck up the courage to break news of his impending defection to rugby union to the Parramatta coach.


Moeroa has signed a two-year Super Rugby deal with the NSW Waratahs until the end of 2021 on a contract which will be topped up by Rugby Australia.

After five years in Sydney’s west with the Eels, the former Australian rugby schoolboys representative will leave the NRL at the end of 2019 and return to the 15-man code.

The 23-year-old was in negotiations with the Waratahs when he came off contract last year and felt it was now-or-never if he was to make a code switch.

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He said if he did re-sign with the Eels, he predicted he would have been too old to make the transition.

A former Newington College student, he said it was heartbreaking to deliver the news of his defection to Arthur, the man who handed him his NRL debut in 2014.


“I came in on Monday morning, I got into training at 6.30,” Moeroa said.

“I was just pacing up and back on the verandah in front of Brad’s office. I didn’t know how to say it, just pacing, rehearsing what I was going to say.

“At 9.30 I said ‘I’ve got to do it’. We had a team meeting at 9.45, I just said I’ve got to go in and do it.


“I walked in, said ‘can I have a chat?’ I said: ‘I wanted to let you know I signed with the Waratahs’. I was fighting back the tears.

“It was hard telling him, because he was there for my debut, I owe a lot to him.”

Following Sunday’s 30-18 win over the Wests Tigers, the Eels are two points off the top four and within striking distance of securing a second bite of the cherry during the finals.

Having only played one finals game in his six seasons at the Eels, Moeroa said his impending departure gave him extra motivation to help the side to go deep into September.

“Before I leave, I want to play another finals series. You’ve got to finish on a good note,” Moeroa said.

“Hopefully we make it into the grand final and win the grand final – that would be the ultimate goal. I’ll be giving the boys 110 percent until I’m done.”


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