Misi Taulapapa’s surprise departure from the Sheffield Eagles was no shock to director of rugby Mark Aston.
The Eagles rounded off their 2015 campaign with a stunning victory over Super League Wakefield on Sunday, which turned out to be Taulapapa’s swansong in an Eagles’ jersey.
Ten players had already been confirmed as leaving the club weeks ago and more faces are expected to depart with announcements planned following the end of the campaign.
It was widely expected that Taulapapa would not be one of those names, but after the game Aston revealed that the versatile 33-year-old had turned down the offer a full-time contract.
“We offered Misi Taulapapa a contract months and months ago, and Misi declined that which is up to him,” Aston told The Star. “Was it a shock? No.
“Do I know what his plans are now and where he is going and what he is doing? No not really.
“He has an agent working for him and I guess that they have decided to have a look elsewhere.”
The New Zealand-born Samoan international joined the Eagles in 2010 and played in both the 2012 and 2013 Grand Final victories for the club. He has been a prominent figure in the success of the Eagles this season, making 29 appearances, scoring 10 tries.
Aston hailed Taulapapa’s contribution to the club, and he firmly believes he will go down as one of the greatest players ever to pull on a Sheffield Eagles’ jersey.
“I don’t know what the next chapter is for Misi Taulapapa, but he is certainly a person that will be remembered in this club’s history as being one of the greats,” Aston enthused.
“He has been an absolute champion for this club and nobody can say a nasty word about him. I wish I could keep him here, and I say that wholeheartedly, because he is one of the best blokes I have ever been associated with.”
Taulapapa was one of a number of players who said goodbye to the club on Sunday with the likes of Eddie Battye, Dominic Brambani, Pat Walker, Scott Turner, Sam Smeaton, James Davey and Tony Tonks all ending their career with the Eagles on a high.
“I wanted to let them have their moment against Wakefield because it wasn’t about the new generation; it was about the old generation,” an emotional Aston concluded.