Comeback ... Lagi Setu, outside the Church of Latter-day Saints in Rhiwbina, Cardiff, will return to the NRL next year after a two-year religious sabbatical. Photo: Nick Potts
WITH Lagi Setu restricted to one hour of internet access a month and no phone calls while serving a Mormon mission, negotiations for his return to the NRL were more drawn out than most before the former Dragons and Broncos forward signed with Melbourne.
In doing so, Setu rejected offers from several NRL and Super Rugby clubs - including St George Illawarra, where he began his career in 2008.
After two years away from the game, the 24-year-old felt the Storm offered a better opportunity to resurrect his career as they are losing back-rowers Sika Manu (Panthers), Todd Lowrie (Warriors) and Rory Kostjasyn (Cowboys) at the end of the season.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy and football manager Frank Ponissi plan to visit Setu next month in Birmingham before he finishes the two-year Mormon mission he began after leaving Brisbane at the end of the 2010 season.
Before then, they will send him a weights program but Setu won't be able to access the email until next Monday when he has his weekly one-hour internet session. During recent weeks, he has been given special permission to discuss the interest shown by numerous clubs in both codes with his manager Isaac Moses during that one-hour period.
Setu has travelled to the nearby Bath Rugby Club for a full body scan, and has been riding a bicycle to keep fit. ''We are understanding that is going to take him a little while to get back into playing,'' Ponissi said.
''It is a little bit different to someone like Will Chambers - at least Will was training and playing a contact sport in rugby union whereas Lagi hasn't done anything for two years so we have got to be understanding and give him a bit of time to develop.
''How long that will take, I am not sure, but we are excited about having signed him and think he will be a good fit for us. Lagi fits the profile of previous players who have come here, and Craig has got the best out of them, and importantly he has got the right attitude to fit in here.''
The Storm have also signed Wests Tigers forward Junior Moors, whom, Ponissi said, would add depth to next season's squad, which will also include Newcastle centre Junior Sa'u and former Junior All Blacks halfback Matt McGahan - the son of ex-Kiwis captain Hugh McGahan. "We are very excited about the group of youngsters we have coming through our development systems, and when combine this with new recruits like Junior and Lagi, we believe we are well placed for next season," Ponissi said.