STRONG PERFORMANCE: Tino Fa'Asuamaleaui against the Dragons last Thursday.
STRONG PERFORMANCE: Tino Fa'Asuamaleaui against the Dragons last Thursday. Robb Cox

'I thought I was going to get over, this can't be happening'

RUGBY LEAGUE: Former Devils junior Tino Fa'Asuamaleaui deserves a spot in the Melbourne Storm 17-man squad to be announced today following his flawless debut last week.

The 19-year-old Gympie product put in a solid 27 minutes during two stints in Melbourne's victory over the Dragons at WIN Stadium on Thursday night.

NRL team lists will be announced this afternoon for the Storm's game against Cronulla on Saturday and Fa'Asuamaleaui deserves a spot.

Gympie's Tino Fa'asuamaleaui makes his debut against the St George Illawarra Dragons, with the Storm securing a 16-14 win.
Gympie's Tino Fa'asuamaleaui makes his debut against the St George Illawarra Dragons, with the Storm securing a 16-14 win. Bec Singh

On his first touch of the ball last Thursday, he looked like scoring. There is little doubt we have not seen his full potential yet, and that will only come with experience.

The 197cm, 107kg forward savoured the experience and was inspired to get more caps in the future.

"It was good to get out there with the boys and obviously get the win, and it was the best experience of my life, I reckon,” Fa'Asuamaleaui told Storm media.

"I just want more now and I just want to play good games in the (Qld) Cup and hopefully Craig (Bellamy) picks me.”

READ MORE:

- Tino makes Gympie proud in nail-biting NRL debut

- Tino and 5 other legendary stories from Gympie sport

- Why Tino's big break is so important

- BREAKING: Gympie teen to make NRL debut

Fa'Asuamaleaui made eight runs for 84m and 31 post-contact metres against the Dragons. He also made 15 successful tackles and came close to scoring.

"I thought I was going to get over and thought this can't be happening and I just fell short,” he said. He was presented with his jersey by his father, Fereti, before the game.

"That was pretty emotional and it was good to be presented it by family, especially my dad - he was my idol growing up and it was real good,” he said.

Tino Fa'Asuamaleaui.
Tino Fa'Asuamaleaui. Bec Singh

Storm manager Frank Ponissi said the Gympie teen's efforts placed him in good stead.

"He's been just knocking on the door and thereabouts so (Thursday) wasn't just a pluck him out of left field and put him in the team - he's been building for a while,” he said.

"One thing about Craig is that he just doesn't give out jerseys unless you deserve it. So, he was ready and really put himself in the frame for the rest of the year that if an opportunity arises the coaches have absolutely no hesitation at throwing him in.”

Although young, Ponissi said Fa'Asuamaleaui more than handled himself.

"He certainly held his own and did not look out of place one bit. That's a huge feather in his cap, not just the time played but he was the second replacement used off the bench.”

Gympie Times


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