27/02/2024

David Nofoaluma will get his first taste of finals footy against the Canberra Raiders. (Photo: NRL)

Wests Tigers and Melbourne Storm winger David Nofoaluma will get his first taste of finals footy this week after 10 years and 180 games.

Starting the season with the Wests Tigers, David Nofoaluma joined the Melbourne Storm on a loan agreement. He has since helped them qualify for the finals series and finish fifth in the regular season.

In his five games for the Storm, Nofoaluma has scored four tries and won three out of five matches.

Nofoaluma has been a big part of the Storm’s success in the previous week due to his experience and versatility. As injuries derailed the Storm back-line, Craig Bellamy decided to bring in a reliable winger. A shock pick-up, Nofoaluma is hoping to achieve a victory in his maiden finals appearance.

“I haven’t been in the finals for 10 years so I’m looking forward to that for myself. It’s a dream to get the opportunity to do it,” the new Storm player said.

“It feels a bit different, I’m usually done this time around but I get the opportunity to be able to play my first finals and I’m definitely excited for it.”

Nofoaluma is a former Dally M Winger of the Year and has represented both Samoa and the Prime Minister’s XIII. In his 10 years in rugby league, he has racked up 99 tries in his career.

He showed his full ability playing for Samoa against the Cook Islands earlier this year, scoring four tries, each better than the one beforehand.

This season he has averaged 133 running metres per game. He has added 76 tackle breaks and 11 line breaks to his attacking statistics.

In defence, he has made 91 tackles with an efficiency rate of 79.1 per cent. The 28-year-old has only missed 24 tackles so he won’t be a liability for the Storm in defence.

Before joining the Storm he got over the line eight times for the Tigers, scoring twice in three games.

Due to coaching problems at the Tigers, he was dropped to reserve grade before being picked up on loan. His dropping was a surprise to fans and critics, however, he is ready to lift for the Storm.

“When I was playing against Melbourne you have got to lift to that intensity so it kind of becomes a natural thing here,” Nofoaluma said.

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This weekend the Storm will come up against the Canberra Raiders in a do-or-die elimination final. The Raiders have won four games in a row just edging out the Brisbane Broncos for eighth position.

Playing at home, the Storm will have the advantage of competing in front of their beloved home fans.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the fans turn up and get behind us,” Nofoaluma said.

New Zealand international Jahrome Hughes will come back into the team this week. (Photo: NRL)

The Storm will welcome back New Zealand international halfback Jahrome Hughes into the team. Hughes missed the last regular season game due to calf tightness and will be a big inclusion. This will be the only change for the do-or-die final as youngster Cooper Johns moves back to the reserves.

Canberra Raiders welcome back star players Jack Wighton and Elliott Whitehead. Both players not only provide the team with skill but experience. With their inclusion, Albert Hopoate and Matt Frawley move into the reserves.

The Storm was able to make the preliminary finals last season after finishing with the minor premiership. They defeated the Manly Sea Eagles in the first round of the finals but couldn’t get past the Panthers for a spot in the Grand Final. Melbourne will be hoping to get the same start to the finals this time round.

David Nofoaluma had some last words to say before the final on Saturday afternoon.

“The best team wins on the day and this year for Melbourne, it’s a must-win game,” he said.

“We have a game plan and it’s all about us preparing well.”

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