At 33, Zeb Taia is the second eldest player on Saints’ books and in the twilight of a professional RL career which stretches back more than a decade.
But he still has plenty to offer the sport he loves, both on and off the field, and is putting it to good use, as well as hoping his know-how will help St Helens bring home at least one piece of silverware after a two-match winning start to the new season.
The New South Wales-born second rower has been a fixture in the side since joining the club from Gold Coast Titans 12 months ago in a swap deal which took Joe Greenwood in the opposite direction, but he his fully aware that his spot is coming under greater threat than ever from a group of young guns emerging through the ranks.
“We have more strength in depth this year and that puts pressure on every member of the squad, including me, to perform week-in and week-out and that’s how it should be,” he said.
“I’m determined to hold on to my shirt. but I recognise that some of our younger players are knocking on the first team door and waiting to pounce.”
Even so, the former Catalans Dragons, Paramatta, Eels, Newcastle Knights and Titans powerhouse forward still finds time to pass on his knowledge and tips to his less experienced team-mates during training sessions, especially on skilled-based stuff on the edges.
“It happened to me when I first came into the game and was of great benefit. so now I want to help our youngster players develop their talents,” he said.
“I take a great satisfaction from seeing these young players fighting for their places. They are really humble and respectful and do everything they are asked to do.”
Saints only made one close season signing, snapping up Bradford Bulls’ talented youngster James Bentley - and Taia has been impressed by one of his up and coming rivals.
“James scored a hat-trick of tries in the friendly fixture against Sheffield Eagles and his potential was there for all to see,” he said.