Api Koroisau, Wests Tigers, captaincy, Benji Marshall, Aidan Sezer, Jahream Bula, Jayden Sullivan


Api Koroisau admits the captaincy was a steep learning curve in his first season at the Tigers, but he remains driven to bring the success of his years at Penrith to the reigning wooden spooners.

In a wide-ranging interview with foxsports.com.au, Koroisau opened up on the challenges of being Tigers skipper, the hurt of winning the wooden spoon and his plans for the future of the club.

The veteran hooker also lifted the lid on the Tigers’ exciting recruits and arguably their greatest signing in Jarome Luai, who will join the club in 2025, as well as a freak of nature that is already on their books.

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Koroisau admits he was naive about how much goes into being an NRL captain before taking over the job in 2023.

“I didn’t realise that there is a bit more responsibility that comes with being a captain than just playing football and trying to lead on the field,” Koroisau told foxsports.com.au.

“But it was actually a great learning curve. I love the responsibility that came with being captain and you find out so much more about yourself and other people.

“It was cool and I can definitely take a lot out of that first year.”

Of all the challenges of the captaincy, Koroisau counts knowing when to be one of the boys and when to lay down the law as the toughest.

“The most challenging thing for me is being on all the time when you are around the boys,” Koroisau said.

“I am a larrikin. I’m actually a piss taker, so having to find that fine line of when to be professional and when to play around a bit too much.

“It has been pretty good this year, but that is the biggest challenge.”

But with the challenges comes the rewards and seeing the club improve across a wide range of areas under his leadership is an amazing feeling to him.

“It is definitely implementing changes around the place,” Koroisau said.


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Api Koroisau took time to understand his role as Tigers captain.
Api Koroisau took time to understand his role as Tigers captain.Source: Getty Images

“Having a voice to say something and everyone listens and then changes actually happen around the place, so that is the most rewarding thing.”

Finding the balance between leading the Tigers and being a family man was the hardest part of being captain, after the club picked up their second straight wooden spoon.

“I wouldn’t say it has been harder than I expected, but I guess there is just more on your plate,” Koroisau said.

“It is just about trying to balance everything because obviously you have got a family life at home and a lot of times you take your work home with you.

“I think because last year was so hard in terms of footy that you go home thinking about what you can do better and trying to help people, so it is just trying to find that fine line.”

Koroisau admits he tried to do too much in his first year as captain and now is focused on playing his role and empowering his players to do theirs.

“I was still stuck in that stage of how do I help everyone,” Koroisau said.

“I think I got caught up in that a bit too much. I was just trying too much and trying too hard trying to figure things out when maybe it is easier to simplify things and just remember that I have got to do my job first and stop trying to do everyone else’s as well.”

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In a team sport there is no greater disappointment than winning the wooden spoon in the NRL and Koroisau admits he struggles to think about last season.

“You can put an emoji on my face, a vomit one,” Koroisau joked.

“It is hard to put into words because it was very disappointing, but it is what it is and we will just try and move forward from now on. You have to just dump it and move on.”

Koroisau struggles to put his finger on his emotions after coming last, but is excited that by what he has seen from his team in the pre-season.

“It is a strange feeling to be honest,” Koroisau said.

“I think everyone is really keen on playing their first game. You talk about hunger and I think we have just started from the beginning again.

“It is such a good feeling at the moment that everyone only cares about doing the simple things and knowing that the process is going to get us where we want to go.

“We don’t have to worry about where we are going to finish or all that kind of stuff, so it is pretty cool that everyone understands their role.

“This is our jobs and everyone is buying in, which is the most impressive thing.”

Koroisau wants the Tigers to focus on the first game and that first win and not look too far ahead.

“Yeah 100 per cent we want to start off well,” Koroisau said.

“It is really important to get some wins, but our focus is going to be on the first game and then and go from there.”

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Koroisau is driven to reverse the club’s wooden spoon seasons.Source: Supplied


Koroisau is excited by the coaching change that has seen Benji Marshall take the reins and revealed the Tigers boss is not always easy to read.

“He is great and his personality is actually quite hard to pick,” Koroisau said.

“He is actually quite funny and makes a lot of jokes, but when he is serious he is serious.

“But the hard thing to pick is sometimes when he is joking around he does the fake serious, so it is hard because you don’t know if he is serious or not, but it makes things lighter around here, which is good.”

He may now have the whistle, but Koroisau revealed Marshall has lost none of his footwork from his playing days.

“He stepped the hell out of my like two days ago,” Koroisau said.

“Right foot, I was coming over in cover and he just went bang, cya later.

“So it was mad. It was actually quite cool and like a dream as he went past me. It was cool.

“It was a humbling experience, but it sort of showed me how great of a player he was.

“I think he is nearly 40 years old and he is still doing that now, so I can’t even imagine what he was doing in his prime.”

Benji Marshall has a funny side as a coach.Source: News Corp Australia


In a bid to get off the bottom of the ladder, the Tigers have brought in a new halves pairing of Aidan Sezer and Jayden Sullivan to the club in 2024 and Koroisau has liked what he has seen from the pair of playmakers.

“We have got some new guys here like Jayden Sullivan and Aidan Sezer who have been great,” Koroisau said.

“Aidan has got great control and he has got a great kicking game as well.

“He is a leader. He is a lot older than a lot of the boys, so he added a great amount of experience and helped the younger boys.

“Jayden is just electric and he can do anything from anywhere.

“He is actually quite mature when it comes to playing footy. He knows when to bide his time and he has got a great kicking game as well.”

Koroisau admits the challenge for him is to work on combinations with his new halves heading into the season and dveloping it as they go through the competition.

“It is just about trying to get an understanding between us all,” Koroisau said.

“Getting us all connected and relaying purposes of the drill because a lot of times we just play footy, but sometimes the drill is a lot different to what the actual purpose is.”

Koroisau is working on his combinations with Aidan Sezer at the scrumbase.Source: Getty Images


Arguably one of the biggest recruits in the club’s history and certainly their most expensive is Jarome Luai and Koroisau is excited to reform his old combination with the star half in 2025.

“He is the ultimate competitor even at training,” Koroisau said.

“He is just all about competing and he is going to be a great asset for us, but I am trying not to think about it because it is still 12 months away.”

However, Koroisau believes Luai could be the most important signing in the club’s history in terms of attracting big names to the Tigers.

“I think the boys are starting to come and the Wests Tigers brand itself there has been a lot happening the last couple of months and I think the club is moving in the right direction,” Koroisau said.

“Jarome Luai is a huge signing. If anything I think his signing is going to be the one that shoots us off in terms of being able to attract players.

“There were a lot of clubs trying to get him to sign.

“Obviously Penrith were trying to keep him which means a lot. That is a great team and they have already won three premierships in a row, so that says a lot about him as a player and it says a lot about the people that brought him here as well.”

Jarome Luai could be the Tigers’ most important signing.Source: Supplied


The brightest spot from the Tigers’ dismal 2023 campaign was unearthing a future superstar in Jahream Bula and Koroisau believes the young gun fullback is just getting started.

“I don’t think anyone expected it,” Koroisau said of Bula’s development.

“We all saw it at training, but he never really went too hard at training, so when he got tossed into the game against Manly in his debut game he was just incredible.

“He hasn’t stopped. He has just gone from strength to strength this pre-season and I know he will go to another level in 2024.”

The sky is the limit for Jahream Bula.Source: The Daily Telegraph


The Tigers have a new look in 2024 with a number of important signings that have impressed Koroisau from day one of pres-season training.

“There has been a few players that have impressed me,” Koroisau said.

“Samuela Fainu is incredible. He has brought real energy. He is a guy in the middle of the forwards, but he does all the little things.

“Jayden Sullivan has been incredible. I have loved everything he has been tossing up so far.

“Aidan Sezer and Stefano Utoikamanu have been very professional.

“There has been some great sessions we have had so far and all the boys are doing really well.”

Koroisau admits he and Sullivan have a blossoming bromance since his arrival from the Dragons.

“Easily there is (a bromance) already,” Koroisau said.

“I love him. He is a great character and I am very boring, so it is good to have someone in the background who has got a personality.

“He just loves a chat. He is not cheeky or rude or joking about other players. He is just very bubbly in his personality, which you need around the boys.”

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Despite the slow start to his time at the Tigers, Koroisau has no regrets about committing potentially the rest of his career to the club after re-signing until the end of 2026 when he will be 34.

“I re-signed because I can see success in the future,” Koroisau said.

“We have got some incredible players and some of our stats when it comes to quick play-the-balls and getting out of our own end are good. We never had any issues with that.

“A lot of our issues came from defence or execution of plays, so we have the foundation of what it takes to be a good team.

“Having a new coach and new defensive systems I think that is all going to help us as a team.”


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