Rugby League

Canberra Raiders recruit Lagi Setu ready for a new mission

When Lagi Setu reported for Melbourne Storm pre-season last year after his Mormon mission, the silence spoke volumes.

After two years in Birmingham pursuing his faith, the back-rower had stacked on 22 kilograms and playing NRL again looked a mile off. He considered giving up and going home to Brisbane, but the Canberra Raiders recruit used the life lessons from his mission as inspiration.

Fit and firing ... Lagi Setu has lost 22kg since his return to the NRL and is confident he can deliver for the Raiders.
Fit and firing ... Lagi Setu has lost 22kg since his return to the NRL and is confident he can deliver for the Raiders. Photo: Graham Tidy

''I came back a little bit sloppy and it was hard to get the body from 125 kilograms to 103. It was tough,'' Setu said.

''The silence said it all. As soon as I walked through the door to meet Bellyache [Storm coach Craig Bellamy], he thought, 'What are we in for?'

New Raiders recruit Lagi Setu.
New Raiders recruit Lagi Setu. Photo: Graham Tidy

''It was my second week in Melbourne and I thought maybe I should just go home, but I love the sport and I don't want any regrets in life. What really motivated me was the people I met along the way in Birmingham.

''I realised how they changed their lives and I thought if I talk the talk, I have to walk the walk.''


The 25-year-old signed a two-year deal with Canberra and is the club's only signing of note, despite the sackings of representative stars Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson.

He played seven games for Melbourne this year, with the last in round 10, and admitted he found his NRL return tougher than anticipated. Now fit and firing, he is confident of returning to his best with the Raiders. ''You think you have the world at your feet, but when you set aside things and go on a mission, you realise there's more to life than just playing rugby,'' he said.

''In Melbourne I was chucked in the deep end … They were happy with my effort. I appreciate what Melbourne's done for me, now it's time to move on and provide for the Raiders.''

Setu completed his mission in Birmingham alongside Raiders rookie Jordan Rapana, currently playing for Cook Islands in the World Cup.

''I could witness the difference in him already when I was over there,'' Setu said.

''He heard about me maybe coming here and he gave me a call to persuade me, but I already knew I wanted to make the move.''

While he describes his early struggles with Melbourne as ''like a nightmare'', Setu backed Parramatta recruit Will Hopoate's return from his mission next year to be seamless.

Setu said the former Manly star would have no issue returning to the form that catapulted him into the NSW Origin side before his sabbatical.

''Backs should be sweet. Backs don't really love food these days, forwards do,'' he said. ''I loved eating food on the mission but I had to pay the consequences.

''My advice [to Hopoate] is to hold on to everything you learnt at the mission and just apply it when you come back home. When you have that talent and blessing to be able to perform on the field like Hopoate has, he should be fine.''