Hull KR star exclusively reveals why he he is going to play on

ONE of the unexpected results of coronavirus is that Hull KR captain Weller Hauraki has now put his retirement plans on hold.

Playing on: Hull KR's Weller Hauraki attacking the Warrington defence. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The veteran New Zealander, who turned 35 in February, was due to call it a day at the end of the season and head home after 11 years in the United Kingdom.

Hauraki, who cites Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers among his seven different clubs, had even spoken about moves made towards starting a new career in the police force.

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However, given this ongoing enforced break due to the pandemic, and the chance rugby league might not start up again until deep into the summer, he has now had a change of heart.

“It’s definitely changed my decision on whether to go on longer or not,” Hauraki told The Yorkshire Post.

“As it stands, I’ve only played one game this season so it’s really helped me out in a way given all this rest I’ve had.

“I now definitely feel body-wise I could play another year.

“It’s all up in the air at the moment (with the coronavirus crisis) and I’m not too sure what I’m going to do but I would like to play on.”

Granted, the former New Zealand Maori international, who was named Rovers club captain in January following Joel Tomkins’s earlier exit, admits he does not know if the East Yorkshire outfit would be able to keep him on in 2021.

But he said: “If we do decide to stay in England, then I’d definitely ask (head coach) Tony Smith if there’s enough (financial) room for me to go again here.

“Obviously, it depends on a few things but I’m sure they’d be happy to make a decision.

“I have 100 per cent looked to start up with the police back home.

“That’s what I’m aiming to do after rugby.

“But they have said when I’m ready to return I can go see them about that and make a decision about when I want to do it. So, there’s no rush and I’m not in too much of a hurry.

“We will see what happens here when we get back playing again.”

Hauraki, who joined Rovers from Salford Red Devils at the end of 2018, was ever-present in his debut campaign at Hull College Craven Park.

He played in all 32 games, starting 27 of them, and was a huge influence as the injury-dogged Robins narrowly managed to avoid relegation.

“If I’d have another season like that this year – playing every game again – then I’d definitely say ‘no, I can’t carry on!’,” explained Hauraki.

“I’d be ready to hang up the boots. But it’s a different story now. I definitely feel that physically and mentally I could do another year.”

Hauraki picked up an ankle issue in a pre-season game at Wakefield in January – the same fixture where team-mate Mose Masoe suffered that serious spinal injury that ended the prop’s career – and needed surgery that saw him miss the start of the Robins’ Super League campaign.

The hard-running forward did make his comeback in the Challenge Cup victory over Leigh Centurions on March 15 only to see the sport shutdown the following day due to Covid-19.

“It was an eight to nine-week injury and I came back in seven,” he recalled.

“But I think I did come back a little bit too early.

“Maybe I could have waited another couple of weeks.

“Having said that, I’ve now had another seven weeks and it has really helped.

“The ankle feels a lot better for that and it’s really built up.

“I’ve been doing five or six K runs every second day out on a field and it feels fine so I’m looking forward to starting up again.”

Hauraki first arrived in Super League with the now defunct Crusaders in 2010.

He joined the Welsh franchise from Parramatta Eels but – after impressing – then moved on to Leeds where he spent two seasons and played in the 2011 Challenge Cup final ahead of another switch to Castleford.

Hauraki reached Wembley again with the Tigers only, ironically, to lose to Leeds in the 2014 final and he joined Salford at the end of the following campaign.

It was announced by the Government on Monday that sporting events “behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact” could start as early as June 1.

In theory, that would allow football’s Premier League to potentially fulfil its aim to start up again on June 12.

No-one expects rugby league to resume until July at the earliest but Hauraki admitted: “Just to get back out on a field together training would be great – and it’s good to know that date’s been mentioned.”