Melbourne Coach Craig Bellamy says Mahe Fonua is a 'real role model' for aspiring rugby league players across Melbourne and Victoria.
Fonua will play his 50th first-grade game on Friday night, becoming the first Victorian to do so. The 22-year old was also the first Melbourne born and bred player to represent Melbourne Storm when he made his first-grade debut back in 2012.
Speaking on Thursday morning, Bellamy expanded on Fonua's journey so far and it's significance to the game of rugby league.
"Mahe has taken a little while to get to 50, he's our first ever Melbourne born and bred player to play for Storm. That's a tremendous achievement from him," Bellamy said.
"He's had some injuries on the way and he's had some times where he's been dropped as well. He's shown a lot of resilience.
"Mahe has shown all the young guys that play rugby league in Melbourne for all the different clubs it is possible if you put a lot of hard work in.
"He's a real role model for the guys that are born and bred in Melbourne that want to play rugby league."
Melbourne's chances for their Friday night showdown with Wests Tigers were bolstered mid week when Jesse Bromwich was found not guilty at the NRL judiciary in a result which pleased Bellamy.
"Having him in the side is a nice feeling, he's obviously a world class player," Bellamy said.
"He's probably been our best player this year to be quite honest, so it's great to have him available on Friday night."