Leaner West Harbour forward Andrew Tuala playing for Super Rugby contract in 2018

After dropping 14kg over summer, West Harbour forward Andrew Tuala has set his sights on a Super Rugby contract.

The former Newcastle Wanderers hooker got his first taste of the big time last weekend when he was called into the Melbourne Rebels squad to play the Brumbies and did enough to earn a spot in the Rebels squad for this weekend’s Brisbane 10s.

Not bad for a bloke who a few months earlier was ready to give up on his dream.

“I was going to give up after this Shute Shield if nothing happened, come back to Newcastle, play local footy and look after my family,” Tuala told the Newcastle Herald.

“Now I have this sniff at the Rebels, it gave me a spark and hopefully, if I have another good Shute Shield season, something comes up.”

Tuala quickly became a favourite of Pirates coach Todd Louden last season, but returns as a different player in 2018 after a big off season.

“I was 139kg by the end of the campaign with the Rams in the National Rugby Championship. I was a bit heavy.”

“Now I am down to 126kg and am still going down. It is the best I have felt. If I want to get to the next level that is what I have to do.”

While 10 a side rugby might not be the ideal format for the slightly smaller big man, Tuala said he jumped at the opportunity to wear the Rebels jersey again after playing from the bench in Saturday’s 50-19 trial loss to the Brumbies.

“I played about 45-50 minutes at loose head,” Tuala said.

“It was a bit nervous because of the pace of the game. When I got on, it was all good. I didn’t feel out of place. The head coach was happy with the way I performed. My carries were strong and I held up my end of the scrum up. He is going to communicate with me during the Shute Shield season goes. I am basically cover if anyone gets injured.”

Tuala said he’s never played 10s before but said he was looking forward to squaring off against some of World Rugby’s biggest names at Suncorp Stadium.

“It will be interesting. I feel much lighter on my feet. There is a lot more space to run but I’m not sure how the lungs will go.”