Bulldogs Curtis Rona has no regrets about leaving Cowboys as he celebrates Kiwis call up

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Curtis Rona may regret his decision to leave North Queensland. That, if he had hung around for just one more season it may have been him instead of current Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt scoring THAT try in the greatest grand final of them all.

But after being selected for the New Zealand Test side in a breakout season in which he scored more tries than anybody other than Fijian flyer Semi Radradra, you’d understand why Rona isn’t looking back.

“There are no regrets there,” Rona said.

“[Feldt] scored a good try, [Michael] Morgan gave him the flick pass of his life. I know people spoke about me leaving, [saying] I should have stayed and won a comp with the Cowboys. But there was no certainty of a starting position there and I was there for two years.

“They did offer a contract but I needed a fresh start and I got that down here.

“I had an opportunity to get game time at the Bulldogs and that’s why I’m counting my blessings, I’m so grateful they gave me the opportunity to do what I do out on the field. My family has moved down to Sydney and we’re happy to be here, I’m grateful for everything I’ve got.

“Full credit to the Cowboys that they won the comp, their maiden premiership. I’m happy to see J.T. [Johnathan Thurston] get it because he’s wanted it so bad and you can see from his outstanding year and Dally M that he’s the player that deserves it the most. It was a good win by the Cowboys.”

Injuries to regular wingers Manu Vatuvei and Jason Nightingale gave Rona the chance to join the Kiwis’ 23-man squad for their tour to England. While Stephen Kearney didn’t hesitate to extend an invitation, Rona’s wife Jacinta needed some convincing. The couple are expecting their first child on November 7, right in the middle of the Test series.

“It’s been really hard for us – we’ve been speaking about it for months,” Rona said.

“We’ve put in procedures there where we have family support to help us if the baby comes while I’m away. It wasn’t an easy choice but sometimes you’ve got to look after your family in other areas as well as being there for them.

“She was proud of me making the squad but it’s not like she was excited about me leaving. She’s supported my career and I’m so grateful we’ve worked out a solution.”

The 23-year-old had to make another hard decision when he got the call from Kearney. The Waitara product, who scored 23 tries in his first season at Canterbury, represented the Junior Kiwis in 2012 but is also eligible for Australia after spending much of his youth in Perth. However, the chance to pull on the black jersey again proved irresistible.

“You don’t just do it for yourself but your family and friends,” he said.

“It represents your culture and where you are from.”

After a stunning start to his career under Des Hasler, Rona will be a heavily marked man next season. However, the 195cm, 105kg flanker isn’t daunted by the challenge.

“It was good on a personal note to have a full season of NRL so people know what I can do,” he said.

“I think the best is yet to come for myself. Next year is going to be a bigger and better year. I know people say that, that it’s a cliche, but I know how the system runs at the Bulldogs with the players and environment around me. It’s going to be exciting for 2016.”

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