In search of a new opportunity to further his rugby league career, Patrice Siolo sent off a few emails to see who might be willing to offer him a place to play.
Luckily for him, the CEO of the Sunshine Coast Falcons Chris Flannery replied and gave him the chance to join the club – and since his arrival – Siolo has been one of his team’s most consistent performers.
“[It is] my first season at the Falcons – how it came about was through an email really, just trying to reach out to clubs to see what was available … Flanno came to the party and an opportunity came to come up to the Sunshine Coast and also to do a pre-season with Melbourne, so [I thought] it would be silly to pass that up,” Siolo said.
“I took on the opportunity and the rest is history.
“[It is] not a bad place to be – very beautiful, nice and warm, beaches are great; but good people all around too, the staff here are unreal, and they have really good facilities.
“Everything you need to build a strong club. (It has been a) pretty good move and I am happy to be here.”
After coming to Australia from New Zealand with his family as a “young fella”, Siolo spent most of his footballing years in Sydney, going through the grades and eventually making his NRL debut in 2014.
“I came over from New Zealand, I was just playing footy in Auckland, but my parents thought it would be a good opportunity to come over here,” Siolo said.
“I have a few younger brothers as well that also play; mum and dad are big, avid rugby league fans, so it was a pretty easy decision for us to get up and have a crack over here. [We are a] rugby league family.
“I came over as a young fella, came over when I was about 14, pretty much played in the South Sydney comp and was lucky enough to come through the grades there.
“I went over to Cronulla, played my 20s there, was lucky enough to get a debut there too, but then returned to South Sydney some years later, going through, [I was] a bit of a journeyman, I went to the Tigers as well, just looking for opportunities to play where I could.
“Pretty much my whole footy upbringing as an adult has been in Sydney, up until now – it’s an awesome move, why not come to the Sunny Coast, a beautiful place to be.”
Siolo’s arrival at the Falcons was coupled with an opportunity to do pre-season training with Melbourne Storm, something which turned out to be a bit more eventful than what he originally anticipated.
In COVID-19 times, border closures can be strict and sudden, which caused a few dramas.
“Originally, I was from Sydney, so there was a fair bit of travelling; I think 12 on a Saturday, I was lying on my couch and I got a call that I had to be out of New South Wales that night, at 12, so, I packed my car; I didn’t even get time to say goodbye to my family,” Siolo said.
“This was pre-Christmas, so it was a bit of a rush, but I drove straight down to Melbourne, got past the border at 11.05 at night and it shut at midnight, so just got through there, I was pretty lucky.
“But doing the pre-season, it was a good experience, obviously I am getting a bit older, but I wanted to take every opportunity I possibly could and going to Melbourne to train with the best team in the comp – they won last year – I really wanted to put my best foot forward, so it was a really easy decision just to get in the car and drive.
“It was six-seven weeks roughly; but then we had another short trip, there was a COVID breakout … we had to get out of Victoria pretty quickly; some boys drove 18 hours back to Brisbane, I went straight to Sydney and waited a week and travelled again, but it was eventful, hectic … but, definitely worth it.”
Now enjoying life and league on the Sunshine Coast, Siolo has also been keeping busy off the field as well.
“I have got myself a job with YouTurn which is a youth work, residential youth care, so taking care of young people,” Siolo said.
“I worked (in this area) in my previous jobs, I have been lucky enough to work with the NRL in the game development space and with community work, so I thought I would help.
“Last year, we were delivering a program along the lines of In League in Harmony, so a program like that was really, really good for me to just use my skills to work with young people and to transfer that to something up here, youth work and residential youth worker would probably be the best thing to do.
“Aside from that, I have moved up with my dog Kobe, he’s been pretty lucky, I have spent plenty of time with him at home, taking him for plenty of walks, so it’s been good to have (him) close by …
“He’s an Australian bulldog, he is unreal, he is pretty much the centre of all my attention up here.”
Match: Falcons v WM Seagulls
Round 7 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
Siolo has been named for the Sunshine Coast Falcons this weekend to take on Wynnum Manly Seagulls.