KONRAD Hurrell’s voice was in full throttle as he put his heart and soul into leading the Sipi Tau ahead of Tonga’s first test against England last Sunday.

Although the 32-year-old Saints centre was not selected to play, he was nevertheless delighted to answer the call of Tonga boss Kristian Woolf after his disappointing end to the season.

Hurrell, who had started his second year in the red vee well, was plagued by a re-occurring calf injury at the end of the season which affected his fitness and saw him dropped down to the Reserves for his last game of the year.

The call from his old Saints boss was timely, with Woolf remarking that the powerhouse centre has immediately risen to the fitness challenge in preparation for what will is likely to be his last time with Tonga.

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Hurrell explains: “I was already focusing on going back home to Tonga, resetting and then coming back out here for a big pre-season.

“But one of the Tonga players pulled out Woolfy called and asked if I was fit.

“I've been doing quite a bit in recent weeks because I was injured the last couple of games and was a bit disappointed with myself that I got myself in that situation with injuries after injuries.

“But getting the call from Woolfy meant a lot.

”It meant that he still had faith in me and like I always say, the reason why I signed for St Helens was because of him, as I knew he would get me to my best and to where I needed to be.

“So to get the call from him was quite nice to be just to be a part of the camp again.”

Hurrell pulled his calf in the game against Leeds Rhinos at the end of July and missed the whole of August.

In his comeback game at Wakefield he suffered a re-occurrence in the opening minutes and understandably struggled with his match fitness.

He played in the last regular game of Saints’ Super League season at home to Hull but was overlooked for the play-offs – with his last action in the red vee coming in the Reserves Grand Final at Wigan.

It was a frustrating time, but Hurrell understands the reasoning behind that – especially being dropped to the Reserves.

“After doing my calf first time I did everything right with the warm-up on my return at Wakefield but I did it again.

“So it was like out for five weeks and then another three weeks on top of that – and I'm a player that needs to play for that match fitness.

“It was a hard decision for Wello, but I think he did the right thing for the team especially with Benno doing a great job there.

“I was more disappointed for the team losing and not going through to the Grand Final just for Robes and some of the other players.

“Obviously, every player when you get dropped if you don't get disappointed then there is something wrong with you.

“The reason behind it was that Wello needed me to play - I needed some game time.

“I wasn't disappointed about going to the Reserves, more that I wasn't getting picked for the first team so, but when he told me to go play Reserves, I was excited and especially with it being a Grand Final too,” he said.

Hurrell is one of the older heads in the Tonga squad, with plenty of younger NRL players getting a shot in the absence of a handful of players from last year’s World Cup.

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And he is grateful for this opportunity having been a part of Tonga’s growth from a Tier 2 rugby league nation to one that has taken on and beaten the likes of Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.

Hurrell said: “Me coming back to Tonga has got me into that mood of getting to play again.

“This will be my last one for Tonga so I am going to finish and just focus on maybe the last two years of playing.

“After the series finishes, I am going back home as I have not been to my mum’s grave since 2019.

“It will be good for me, for my headspace, and just to go with my partner Bec my little fella (Sonny) to go and meet the rest of the family.

“It'll be good for me. Reset and then hopefully I can still taste the disappointment at the end of the year for myself so I can bring a bit of motivation for me to fight back in the team."