When Nafe Seluini steps out for Storm at this weekend’s Auckland Nines he will be living proof of the Club’s Sunshine Coast vision.
Seluini’s selection in the 18-man squad is just-reward for the outstanding work displayed by the Sunshine Coast Falcons player throughout the pre-season.
The New Zealand born hooker and Falcons teammate Matt Grieve have spent the summer training with the Club’s first-grade squad.
Last August, Storm announced it would be basing its newly formed development Academy on the Sunshine Coast as well as the Club’s U20s side.
This announcement came a year after forming a feeder team partnership with the Sunshine Coast Falcons in the Intrust Super Cup. A main objective of the program was to identify local talent and provide a clear pathway into the NRL system.
That pathway will be realised this Saturday when Seluini runs out onto Eden Park in a purple jersey.
"It's been full-on (this pre-season), but everything I do, I do my best,” Seluini told the Sunshine Coast Daily.
"I'm a little bit nervous, but I just can't wait."
Nines coach Adam O’Brien believes the rapid-fire nature of the shortened format is perfectly suited to the playmaker’s skillset.
“I think this game suits him, he is quite a skillful and attacking player,” O’Brien said.
“I think he has earned his spot and we’re looking forward to seeing him get out there and run around with the footy in his hands.”
Newly appointed Falcons coach Craig Ingebrigtsen, who recruited Seluini from the Burleigh Bears at the end of last season, believes there is plenty of upside to the 25-year-old.
"He's no rookie to the footy system," he said to the Sunshine Coast Daily.
"I spent the last week with him andhe's an outstanding individual … he's humble and has all the traits to be a top level player, he has a good skill base and he's a solid tackler.
"He'll get a trial against Wests Tigers and if he gets to play NRL then I'm doing my job."