Heremaia looks back at 250 games

Heremaia looks back at 250 games widnesvikings.co.uk
pic

30th March 2017

Aaron Heremaia played his 250th career game, in Widnes Vikings fixture against Salford Red Devils on Friday 24th March.

The Widnes Vikings Media Team caught up with the hooker, to discuss his career in the Super League and NRL. In this interview he shares his unconventional route to becoming a professional, his cunning efforts to get his big break, and his time at Leigh Centurions, New Zealand Warriors, Hull FC and Widnes Vikings.

 “I always loved rugby league. My dad also played the sport in New Zealand before it became professional.  I started playing when I was 10 years old and I'm still going now."

Despite his love for the game and possessing the work ethic, it has not always been plain sailing for Aaron. Most professional players follow a pathway from community and academy clubs into the first team. For Aaron however, his route has been a little different.

“Growing up, I didn’t always make the representative teams. I was never the most talented player, but I stuck in there, worked hard and believed that I could make it one day.

“I was in the New Zealand  Warriors’ academy and I didn’t really kick on. So at 18 years old, I went to Australia and again I was told I wasn’t good enough.

“But as always, I worked hard. I came to England in 2006 to play for Leigh Centurions in the Championship. I spent two years there and enjoyed them a lot.”

At the age of 25, Aaron returned to New Zealand and was forced to find work. His dream of playing in the NRL looked distant.

 “I went back home, stopped playing and ended up working with the wife’s family in an Italian restaurant. 

However, by chance, I got an opportunity through a coach I had when I was younger. The Warriors had a few injuries at the reserve grade and they asked me to help out. After playing five games, I did the off-season with them. They said  that 'If you shed 10 kilos and got to level 13 on the bleep test, we’ll give you a contract', and that’s how it started.”

From being called up to the squad, Aaron saw an opportunity to find his place in the team.

“I'd been a half back since the age of 10. I went into the Warriors, and there was 6 half backs and 2 hookers there. Instantly I knew that there was more chance of me getting in at hooker, so I sneaked in to that position at training a few times!  As a half back, you know what you want from your hooker. Ivan Cleary said I looked pretty good and moved me into that position. I was a little bit sneaky!”

Once in the first team, Aaron enjoyed swift progress. He explains, “I spent three years at the Warriors, made my debut against the Tigers. I played for my country, as well as playing in the NRL Grand Final in that time. That was enough for me! Al the hard work was worth it.”

After three years with his boyhood club, Aaron again travelled to the Northern Hemisphere to play for Hull FC in 2012, a time that he enjoyed - making a Challenge Cup Grand Final.

In 2015, he moved to Widnes Vikings, becoming a mainstay of the team. In this time, he has been named the Players Player of the Year and has been appointed as a Vice -Captain in the Club's Leadership Group.

He says: "It's been a fantastic experience playing at the Vikings. We've a close team and the supporters have always been great with me. It's always a real honour to represent the Club."

Aaron looks back at his career with real pride. He says: "I wasn’t the most talented player growing up but I worked hard and that's why I’m still playing now here. I always say talent only gets you so far but hard work stays with you forever. I’m now the old bloke at training with a lot of young blokes, but I'm happy with that!

“I’m really proud of hitting 250 games, after being told that I wasn't good enough. I've had a great career and have some fantastic memories." 

 

Heremaia looks back at 250 games widnesvikings.co.uk