He notched up more than 180 games in the NRL and UK Super League, but come Wednesday night there will be nowhere for Ingleburn’s Richie Fa’aoso to hide.
The 33-year-old – who played for six NRL clubs including Newcastle and Parramatta – will make his debut on the undercard of the fight between Bradbury’s Tommy Browne and Anthony Mundine at The Star.
Fa’aoso was originally slated to fight former NRL player Reni Maitua but that fell through. Now he will go toe-to-toe with a “proper boxer” in Ben Sila, who hails from St Mary’s UTC Gym.
“I was just keeping fit then someone said ‘do you want to fight Reni Maitua’ and I said ‘yeah’. Just two old footy players having a crack and some fun,” he said.
“But something happened there and now I’m fighting a proper boxer so I have to pull my finger out.
“I’d rather fight a boxer who is better than me.
“I don’t want to be one of those footy players who fights blokes who just came out of the bakery – it doesn’t do you any credit.”
On the football paddock, there were always 12 other guys who had Fa’aoso’s back.
Come Wednesday, he knows he will be all on his own. But he’s not phased.
“With a group you can take a rest or two but when you train for boxing by yourself there is no hiding – you have to go hard,” he said.
“You can’t hide in this sport. It’s all me.”
Fa’aoso has been preparing for the fight at the Bulldog Gym Campbelltown in Ingleburn.
The former Tonga representative said he started attending the gym about three months ago “doing a bit of fitness and mucking around”.
But when the call to fight on the Browne/Mundine undercard came, he “knuckled down”.
Though he said the chances of starting a boxing career in his 30s was unlikely.
“I just want to test myself and see what I’m made of,” he said.
“I don’t know how it will go. I just know I’ve been training hard.
“I just go with the flow. If I get a bit of money on the side who knows – money talks.
“I never thought I was going to be a boxer. I’ve had a little taste of it now and it’s a bloody hard sport.
“There’s a lot of dedication and sacrifice, but I had that with footy so I’ve got a bit of a leg up there.
“But after that fight I will go back to work because I have to support my family.
“If I could get a bit of money here and there (with other fights) and still work, I’ll do it.”