Rasaubale wants to tackle Gallen in and out of the ring
After tackling Paul Gallen in the ring, Puna Rasaubale plans to tackle him in the NRL next year.
The former Cronulla teammates will turn on each other when Rasaubale makes his professional boxing debut at Sharks Leagues Club on Friday. Gallen hopes the event is a precursor to a much-hyped confrontation with Sonny Bill Williams, although the Cronulla captain concedes the chances of it happening are becoming increasingly remote.
For Rasaubale, it means even more. The 30-year-old is also a former footballer, a talented forward who came through the Dragons’ junior ranks with the Morris brothers and Jason Nightingale.
Considered the next big thing, he shifted to the Roosters – “they bought my dad a ’98 Ford Falcon to win me over as a kid, I wasn’t even eligible to drive at the time” – but never kicked on. He found trouble off the field in his teens and needed the late, great Arthur Beetson to bail him out of juvenile detention. He walked out on the Dragons in his second stint at the club just as he was about to make his first-grade debut, to box for Fiji at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. It was a move that appeared to end his NRL hopes.
However, having beaten substance addiction, he now wants to beat Gallen. After doing so, he hopes to have one last crack at the NRL.
“If I can put him on his backside, hopefully those opportunities arise,” Rasaubale said.
“The plan is to get the fight done and look for an opportunity at an NRL club.
“If I beat Gal, this can open up some doors. I’ll get in touch with some clubs and see if a full-time opportunity comes up because I will jump on it straight away.
“I’m a young 30. I’ve never had any major injuries, I haven’t really been full time in a system, I’ve trained only in pockets. I’m young and strong, my mindset is in the right place. Fijians, we become stronger at a later age.
“I’ve got a five-year window now for me now, until I’m 35, where I’m at my peak.”
Rasaubale and Gallen first sparred in 2006 and the Fijian footballer has helped the veteran forward prepare for many of his fights. While Gallen has a record of 7-0 as a professional, Rasaubale is a three-time Fijian heavyweight champion with more than 40 amateur fights, losing just three.
“I’m supremely confident,” he said.
“I’ve been doing this since I was knee-height to a grasshopper, I was born for this. I’m fit, I’m strong and I’ve never been more ready to turn pro in my life.
“Funnily enough, one of his sparring sessions got leaked to me and nothing has changed. He’s sparring old men and nothing was different in his technique.”
For over a year, Rasaubale goaded Gallen on Instagram in a series of hilarious call-outs. Having got his wish of a boxing match, he made his Instagram account private.
“I needed to sacrifice myself, carry on like a tool to get what I wanted,” he said.
“But there’s no need to promote any more, it’s just about getting the job done. It’s a fight, all the talking is done.”
Rasaubale is fighting for himself but also his people. His plan is to raise the funds needed to build a sports school in Fiji, where his mother owns 400 acres of land.
“I want to be someone the kids look up to and are motivated by,” he said.
In an interview with Fairfax last month, Gallen said his ultimate boxing ambition is to face Williams.
“I agreed to terms with Sonny Bill four or five months ago,” he said.
“I’ve chased Khoder [Nasser, Williams’ manager]. I don’t know where it’s at. I’ve come out with the line that Sonny is scared to appeal to his ego a little bit to make the fight happen, but I’ve not got a whole lot back in return.
“I’m not going to keep calling someone out for nothing. That’s the only fight I really want to have, I don’t wish to pursue boxing for any more than that. I don’t have a thirst for titles or rankings, Sonny Bill is the only fight people want to see me have.”