Lance’s Kiwi polish

Lance Hohaia
Lance Hohaia

SAINTS new boy Lance Hohaia is relishing life in St Helens.

The 29-year-old New Zealand international was the club’s marquee signing for the 2012 season.

And speaking exclusively to the St Helens Reporter, Hohaia has told how he jumped at the chance of joining Saints on a four-year deal after a decade with the New Zealand Warriors.

“The opportunity to come to play in England was great,” said Lance, who will wear the no6 jersey next season.

“I’d been at New Zealand Warriors for 10 years – that’s a pretty good run, and this was an opportunity to play for the one of the great sides in this country.”

Hohaia is one of the finest utility players of the modern era with an uncanny ability to slot seamlessly into both half-back roles, full-back or hooker.

But the Kiwi ace admits it was the promise of a regular start at his preferred position of stand-off that played a central role in convincing him to swap the Auckland for St Helens.

“Royce has given me the no6 shirt and has said that’s where he sees me playing,” said Hohaia.

“That’s the position I played growing up and that’s the position I see as my best position.

“But I’ve been around long enough to understand that things happen, players get injured and that I may have to step into another position - and of course I’m happy to do that.”

After spending his first Christmas in St Helens, Lance has quickly adapted to life in England.

“Me and my fiancee have settled in really quickly, we’ve got a house sorted and things are really great,” he said.

“The weather’s not too good; it’s certainly not what I’m used to but apart from that everything has been really good.

“The boys at Saints have been great, they’ve made it really easy for me.

“One of the reasons we wanted to come over was to experience living in a different country, to experience the European culture, so we’re enjoying that.”

Hohaia has been impressed with the talent available for coach Royce Simmons to select from as he prepared for a second crack at the Super League title.

“As as a group of players there is a lot of talent here,” said Hohaia, who represented New Zealand 29 times and won the 2008 World Cup. “There’s a lot of very good players here and I’m looking forward to playing with them.”

The move to St Helens has also seen Lance reunited with his former New Zealand Warriors team-mate Francis Meli.

He went on: “I know Francis from back home. We played together for a couple of seasons at the Warrirors. He was already in the first team when I was a teenager; he’s a good guy.

“I know Sia (Soliola) and Tony (Puletua) quite well as well, so it’s not been a complete shock. And a lot of the other English boys I have played against at international level, so I know the team quite well.”