Teen star loving life with Keighley Cougars AND Hull KR
RISING star Phoenix Laulu Togaga'e wants to drive Keighley Cougars to promotion from League 1 before realising his Super League dream with Hull KR.
The teenage winger/full-back will feature as Keighley look to secure a place in the Grand Final by winning at second-placed Workington Town in this evening’s qualifying play-off.
Keighley, who finished fourth, have already beaten third-placed North Wales Crusaders with last weekend’s 28-14 win in Colwyn Bay.
Laulu Togaga'e, 18, has been one of the stories of the season having joined Cougars while still at studying at school before Hull KR last month signed him up and immediately loaned him back.
Earlier this week, he was nominated for the League 1 Young Player of the Year.
“I’ve enjoyed it loads,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“I didn’t expect anything from this season or for it to blow up like it has, getting nominated for League 1 Young Player of the Year and signing a Super League contract.
“But it’s testament to the hard work I’m putting in and it’s been great.
“We’re all looking forward to this Workington game.
“It’s been a long time since the club has been in this position and it all rests on our shoulders now.
“It’s a big responsibility but we love the pressure of it.”
Favourites Workington are undefeated in their last five home meetings with Keighley, having won four and drawn one, with the West Yorkshire club not winning there since 2014.
Town also beat Cougars 22-18 at Lawkholme Lane last month but Laulu Togaga'e insisted: “I think we can get over the line.
"We’re always confident but we can’t under-estimate Workington as anything can happen in the play-offs.
“We lost the last time we played Workington. I was watching from the sidelines and we became a little complacent during that game; we just fell off with our energy levels and they crept back into the game due to our errors and penalties.
“We need to cut those out on Saturday and if we do we should have a good chance.”
Meanwhile, the youngster has been training full-time with the Robins since news of his signing was announced and heading back to Keighley when needed to practice there.
He said: “It’s been really good.
“The quality of players and standard of rugby played is something I’ve not experienced before.
“I’m still getting used to being a professional sportsman but I think I should be fine. I’m enjoying it.”
Laulu Togaga'e is currently playing with his dad Quentin Laulu Togaga'e in the Keighley side and will get to line-up alongside another fine full-back at Rovers given they have signed St Helens’ Australian star Lachlan Coote for 2022.
“That was a big part of why I signed for KR,” he said.
“I just wanted to learn off him as he’s such a good, experienced full-back.
“It’s massive. I want to play with him and help develop my game.”
In an elimination play-off, Doncaster visit North Wales Crusaders today with the victors playing the loser of Workington v Keighley for a place in the Grand Final.