HE has his gold initials ingrained into his teeth but it is silverware Mahe Fonua hopes to now achieve at Hull FC.
The Tongan winger is counting down the days to the new season having arrived in East Yorkshire from NRL giants Melbourne Storm on a three-year deal.
Explosive Fonua, who turned 23 on Christmas Eve, is regarded as one of Super League’s biggest potential stars for 2016 having earned a reputation as a quality finisher in Australia.
However, he is already catching the eye – whenever he flashes a smile and shows off his distinctive teeth additions.
“It’s Tongan culture; they like to get gold on their teeth and my mum wanted to take it to the next level by getting my initials put on,” explained Fonua.
“It was more of a wealthy thing back in the day but now it’s more about tradition.
“The gold I’ve got is from my dad’s wedding ring. I got it done when I was 15.
“The engraving on the teeth didn’t hurt but the big needle they used to numb the tooth was a killer. It was worse than getting a tattoo.”
At Hull, he will replace Tom Lineham, the prolific winger who was sold to Warrington Wolves, and is relishing the chance to impress his new employers.
“I played for Tonga in the 2013 World Cup over here and for Storm against Leeds Rhinos in the World Club Challenge,” he said.
“It was a nice little ice breaker for me playing in England.
“I know the crowds here are really upbeat and get fully into the games so I’ll be happy to be playing for an English team where they will be barracking for me rather than against me.”
Fonua scored 10 tries in 20 games for Melbourne last season and admits his grounding in the sport has been first-class given the quality of some of his team-mates there.
Since debuting in 2012, he has regularly featured outside the golden triumvirate of Queensland State of Origin and Kangaroos legends Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.
“Everyone knows how good and how professional they are,” he added. “Everything said about them is true. I was fortunate to have five years at Storm and to play alongside them.
“Sometimes I had to pinch myself because of the calibre of player they are. Being next to them I had to give myself a reality check. Melbourne taught me all I know and coming over here I want to spread my wings and show what I have learned.”
Fonua is one of four Polynesian players to have joined the Black and Whites during the off-season, the others being Tonga team-mate Sika Manu from Penrith Panthers, Canterbury Bulldogs forward Frank Pritchard and Newcastle Knights centre Carlos Tuimavave.
Their transition has been helped by Feka Paleaaesina, the former Wigan Warriors prop already in situ.
“He’s been doing a real good job from day one,” admitted Fonua.
“The first night we got in about 10.30 but we’d shot off to Tesco.
“He came over late at night to introduce himself even though he had training the next day.
“He did the same thing the next morning but I was asleep. But since day one he has tried to look after me and my wife and played that big brother role.”