Konrad Hurrell returns to Tonga to help with Cyclone Gita recovery

Tongan international Konrad Hurrell is doing his bit to help rebuild the country after the devastating damage caused by Cyclone Gita.

The island nation was hit by the category five storm last week, leaving thousands of homes torn up, with residents homeless.

Catastrophic 230-kilometre winds ripped through the capital and blew down remote villages and outer islands in Tonga.

Fallen trees, toppled power lines and dilapidated buildings litter the empty streets as thousands of residents remain in evacuation centres.

Konrad Hurrell returns to Tonga to help with Cyclone Gita recovery
Photo credit: Konrad Hurrell; Facebook
Konrad Hurrell returns to Tonga to help with Cyclone Gita recovery
Photo credit: Konrad Hurrell; Facebook

Hurrell, currently based in the Gold Coast with the Titans, took the news of the cyclone hard and said it had been affecting him in training.

Coach Garth Brennan suggested the 26-year-old head home and spend time with his family and raise the spirits of locals in the process.

"(Garth) told me to go home and see my mum and dad. He knew it would make me happy," Hurrell told NRL.com.

"I think he could tell I wasn't quite there. That's just the type of guy he is."

Hurrell kept his visit a secret so he could surprise his family. His mother couldn't contain her emotions when her son walked through the door.

"It was pretty crazy seeing my mum. She was happy and struggling to breathe properly," Hurrell said.

Konrad's father Robert wasn't home at the time, giving the former New Zealand Warrior an opportunity to play a fairly nasty prank on his dad.

"Dad wasn't here so we called him to tell him that mum had been rushed into hospital," Hurrell told NRL.com

Robert didn't appreciate the joke, but after a bit of banter between the two he quickly changed his tune.

"I came rushing back. It was a really bad joke," Robert told NRL.com.

"I was really shocked, really shocked. I just about peed my pants. It's just really good to see him back - for him to see what we went through... we are really happy that he took time off to come and see us."

Reality hit for Hurrell when he visited a few of the worst affected areas.

The 97 NRL-game veteran got stuck in as the repair work amped up.

"Looking at some of the people's houses In outer villages, the roof is gone - you know? It's just hard man," Hurrell said.

"It was the worst cyclone to ever hit Tonga. It just kind of scared me.

"A little help from someone can make a lot of difference. That's all I wanted to do was help out. I knew it wasn't much but it's just good to be here and to help out and have a bit of laugh as we get to work.

"This is where I grew up and it's good to be back again doing my bit."

The Hurrell family believe Tonga will bounce back from the damage suffered.

"Everyone is happy. As long as we are alive we are happy. We are breathing, we are living. We carry on and we rebuild. We will be good."