Electric Eddie set to stay at Sunshine Coast Falcons
RUGBY LEAGUE: Dynamic fullback Eddie Tautali is set to stay at the Sunshine Coast Falcons where another strong campaign could see him attracting NRL clubs, but he's been urged to knuckle down on the training paddock.
The enigmatic 25-year-old showed flashes of brilliance during the team's state league preliminary final run last season, crossing six times and assisting in 19 tries.
Re-signing the New Zealand product was seen as crucial and now it appears the Falcons have got their man, with the Redbank junior returning to training on Monday night.
"That's good news for the club,” coach Craig Ingebrigtsen said.
"A player of his calibre would have been sorely missed if he decided to go overseas or do whatever else ... so to have him come back to training is a really big bonus to us.”
Tautali had been considering stints in France and England but the coach said they'd come to an agreement on Monday morning and he was set to sign on with Falcons' CEO Chris Flannery.
"We can't wait to have him back on board,” Ingebrigtsen said.
"In all honesty, if he's not the best fullback in the competition, he's in the best two (with Kurtis Rowe, Burleigh).
"I think he understands if he comes back here and has another big year his next step is probably into the NRL system.”
But it's unlikely to be with the Falcons affiliate, Melbourne Storm.
"He doesn't have the ethic to be a Storm player and he knows that and Melbourne have made that pretty clear to him,” he said.
"Melbourne understands he's an excitement machine but he just doesn't have that work ethic.”
In fact, unless Tautali knuckles down at Falcons training, he's not even guaranteed a run with the Bokarina-based side, which is in the midst of a particularly torrid pre-season.
"Things have changed at the Falcons and he needs to be training really hard or he's probably not going to play much footy for us,” the coach warned.
"We're not going to take passengers or anyone who's not going to do the job so that's the discussion we've had over the last week two weeks with him.
"We've left it to him (and have) basically said if if you come here, you come on our terms.
"And he's done that (come back to the club with intent) which is good.
"The execution is what he need now.”
Tautali has 43 tries from 87 games in the state league, having played 24 of those matches for the Falcons after a previous stint at Easts.
But with the likes of determined ex-Ipswich Jets talent Haydan Lipp potentially laying a claim for the custodian's role, there is some pressure on Tautali to hold his spot, although the former could play in the halves and the latter could play in the three-quarter line.
Meanwhile, the Falcons have again secured the services of centre Matt Grieve and forward Jon Grieve.
Matt Grieve trained with the Storm last pre-season but his year was cruelled by injury while Jon Grieve - a Sunshine Coast foundation player - proved to be key man in the second half of the season.
However, the Falcons may not be able to keep impressive rake Nafe Seluini, who is in New Zealand.