Manly prop Taniela Paseka.
Powerful prop Taniela Paseka is keen to reunite with his long-lost brother during Manly's US stint. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Paseka out to impress brother he never knew he had

George Clarke February 20, 2024

Manly’s season-opener in Las Vegas will give prop Taniela Paseka the perfect opportunity to play in front of the big brother he never knew existed.

All 125kg of Paseka’s muscle-packed 197cm frame will strap into a flight bound for the US this week as the Sea Eagles get set to face South Sydney in the NRL’s round one.

For the 26-year-old Manly forward it offers a rare chance to play in front of eldest brother Siunipa, also known as Junior. 

Paseka spent his childhood thinking he was the youngest of six children of Tongan descent born to mother Ana and father Leone.

But when he became a teenager the New Zealand-born forward discovered the existence of Junior, living in California. 

Taniela Paseka during manly 2024 NRL season launch.
 Paseka “found out when I was 14 or 15” that he had an elder brother living in the US. Image by Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS 

“My mum’s brother, my uncle, couldn’t have kids so my parents gave him one of their kids,” Paseka told AAP .

“He was adopted when he was a new-born. I found out when I was 14 or 15 that we had another brother in America.

“When I was 16, he came over and visited us and we had a family reunion. That was the last time I saw him. 

“I’m the baby of the family but my older siblings know the whole backstory.

“He lives in San Francisco so I’ve messaged to see if he can come (to Vegas), with work and whatnot. 

“It would be great for him to see a game he’s never watched before.”

Paseka said the first time the brothers met there could be no doubting they were blood.

“He looks identical to me and one of my other brothers. He’s tall, like maybe 6ft 11in (210cm), I actually look up to him,” the Manly prop said.

“He has to duck through every door he goes through.

“I reckon (Manly) could put him on and he’d give a big five-minute stint, he’s a big dog.” 

Taniela Paseka in action for Manly against Newcastle.
 The forward is keen to pick up in 2024 where he left off last season for the Sea Eagles. Image by Darren Pateman/AAP PHOTOS 

While his brother’s existence was a long-kept secret, 2024 shapes as a year in which Paseka’s presence as one of the NRL’s most-damaging props will become considerably more widely known.

Last season was statistically Paseka’s best year in the competition, and the prop is hoping to pick up from where he left off as Manly chase a return to the finals. 

“I definitely came out of my shell last year. This year I want to do it from the start,” he said, putting at least part of his success down to a protein-rich eating regime. 

“I’m still on the all-meat diet and I’ve got a few other boys on it,” he said. 

“That’s helping me feel good.”