Call it ‘Operation George Fai’ if you like but the Souths-Logan Magpies and Brisbane Broncos are on a mission to save the career of the powerhouse prop in the next two months.
The Logan Brothers junior, a top 30 Broncos squad member who made his NRL debut in 2017, disappointed Brisbane coaching staff with the poor condition he turned up in at pre-season training.
After subsequently failing to reach the required conditioning targets the off-contract forward has been sent back to train with the Magpies to get himself in shape and has been given until April to hit those marks, a deadline where his future will be on the line.
Fai will take on the Broncos when he lines up for affiliate club Souths-Logan in a trial in Warwick on Saturday night, an opportunity to show that he is making progress.
The 22-year-old is in exactly the right environment to resurrect his career. He’s at a club that loves him to death but also demands he looks in the mirror and changes his ways.
“George is one of our own,” Souths-Logan CEO Jim McClelland told NRL.com.
“He’s a Logan Brothers kid and we’ve had him in development squads since he was 15 years of age. He means something to us and if you talk to him, we mean something to him.
“We are there to kick his arse but we are also there to give him a shoulder to lean on as well. The rest of it is up to him.
“There are some good people over there at the Broncs who are still supporting him and he’s got to use all of those resources – from wellbeing right through to dieticians and training.
“Sam Tagataese at the Broncos has had a chat to him and he is close to Patrick Mago. He knows everyone is there for him. He just needs to understand he is an employee and has to go to meet some targets.”
The positive for Fai is that he has raw ability and has proven in the past that he can work hard off the field.
He lost eight kilos before making his NRL debut in 2017 and was going great guns in Brisbane pre-season training that year.
McClelland said he was reviewing Fai’s Intrust Super Cup statistics from 2018 with Souths-Logan coach Jon Buchanan where he was “the number one or two player for us each week for our last eight games”.
“George runs great lines, is quick for a big man and is that Fuifui Moimoi style of player who is so hard to handle,” McClelland said.
The lesson the Broncos and Magpies want Fai to learn is that success is a journey not a destination, and that he now has to recalibrate as he tackles the road ahead.
“The pressure is on us as well,” McClelland said.
“We have to work with the Broncs on this one and hopefully we can get him back up to those targets in April.
“George has too much talent to give it away and just needs to realise he has to work that bit harder, and I’m pretty hopeful he can do that.
“Every night he has trained with us he’s put in an effort and this weekend he will get to run out against the Broncs and hopefully be able to show them that ‘hey guys I am worthy of an opportunity’. We really hope he can be resurrected.”