Kahn Fotuali’i has hailed countryman Ahsee Tuala for earning a new Saints contract.
Tuala arrived as injury dispensation for Ben Foden back in February and was only due to stay until the end of the campaign.
But after scoring four tries in eight appearances so far, the 25-year-old was offered a new deal.
He put pen to paper on Wednesday, and Fotuali’i is delighted to see the man nicknamed Ace sticking around.
“It’s awesome to have him staying,” said the scrum-half. “He’s a quality player, very talented and just a natural rugby player.
“Credit to him because he’s been working really hard since he got here and he’s been rewarded with the starts he’s had of late.
“He’s playing really well and he can get better in the next few weeks and next season.”
Tuala has worked on his fitness since moving to Saints, shedding pounds and adding extra tempo to his game.
But he admitted the biggest challenge was having to leave his wife and two young children at home as he went in pursuit of his professional rugby dream.
“He’s got family back home and it’s always daunting coming over by yourself, away from the family,” said Fotuali’i.
“It helps having some other people he knew from before, it helps having us Polynesians here as well as Samu (Manoa) and Salesi (Ma’afu).
“We’re just like a big family and we’ve been mingling and making him feel at home.
“He’s a big part of it now and next season his family will come over to expand that family we’ve already got here, not just among the Polynesians but the others, too.”