Michael Sio knows that good things come to those who wait.
He and partner Nesi waited and waited this year before their beloved little girl Imelda was born two weeks after her due date.
Sio was well practised in waiting – last year’s Covid cancellation of the Intrust Super Cup season halted a Norths Devils rebuild that he helped start when he joined the club at the end of 2017.
The 2021 Devils have been making up for lost time, claiming the minor premiership with a 15-2 win-loss record ahead of Sunday’s qualifying final against Tweed Seagulls at Bishop Park. That will mark Sio’s 50th match for the Devils.
Sio was one of the first players Norths coach Rohan Smith signed when he arrived at the Devils ahead of the 2018 season with only two players signed.
Smith’s rebuild of the Devils gathered energy when Sio and club captain Jack Ahearn walked through the doors in November 2017.
They have been key figures in the Norths’ change room ever since, forming part of the leadership group that will help to keep the Devils focused during the finals.
“It’s been special to have been at Norths over these last few years,” Sio said.
“There has been such a good feeling at this club. Everyone checks their egos at the door when they get here. No one thinks they’re bigger than the team, instead everyone is here to support each other.
“We just enjoy each other’s company and that’s what makes the wins more special.”
Sio, 28, has been vital for the Devils, mainly spending his time at hooker and lock as he leads the team’s “middles” around the field.
He is a quiet achiever on the field, bringing his experience as a Samoan Test player and his years in the New Zealand Warriors’ system and the UK Super League.
Sio is the eldest of five children and he counts as one of his career highlights the chance to play with brother Chris, who represented the Devils in 2019 before returning to New Zealand.
Sio had played under Smith at the Warriors and the two forged a relationship that has benefited the Devils and their supporters.
“I am grateful for the time I’ve spend with Ro – he’s an NRL coach-in-waiting,” Sio said.
“I’ve learnt a lot here and I got to play with my brother here which I never thought would be possible.
“Now, I’m playing my footy for my daughter. She has shown me the meaning of life and I want to play well for her.”
Imelda caused Sio to miss the Devils’ last clash with Tweed.
He stayed at home in June rather than risk Nesi going into labour while he was playing over the NSW border.
However, Sio returned to play at home the following weekend while Nesi still waited for Imelda to announce her arrival.