NEWCASTLE Wildfires coach Scott Coleman had almost given up on Mahe Fangupo.
Fangupo, 32, started at halfback for a second straight game when the Wildfires hosted perennial powerhouse Eastwood at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.
The dynamic No.9 looked every bit a Shute Shield player, if not higher, in the 50-7 loss to Randwick in the season-opener. His service was slick, he asked questions of the defence and brought his forwards into the game.
It was exactly what Coleman expected and exactly why he's been trying to get the former Central West great for so many years.
It took eight years and more knock backs than an 18-year-old at a wine bar for Coleman to get his man.
At the start of each preseason, Coleman would ring the former Tongan Test halfback who was living in the central west of NSW and try to lure him to Newcastle and the Hamilton Hawks. Each phone call was met with the same response - "Thanks but, no thanks".
But with the Wildfires taking part in the Shute Shield this year Fangupo made the move, although it is a temporary one for now.
"It's a good opportunity to play a high level of footy," Fangupo said.
"It was a difficult decision. I am a very big part of Forbes rugby and I love them. We had a little bit of success, but apart from that it is a very good place to live." Coleman described Fangupo as a "class act".