When kicking the footy around parks in Melbourne at a young age Young Tonumaipea and Richie Kennar dreamt of doing the same together on the big stage one day.
On Monday, that day will come. Tonumaipea and Kennar will realize their dreams on rugby league’s biggest stage during the home and away season, ANZAC Day.
After Mahe Fonua blazed a trail for fellow Victorians, becoming the first Melbournian to play for Storm in 2012 and then the first to reach 50 games for the Club, Tonumaipea and Kennar are now continuing the legacy.
By definition of their heritage, Tonumaipea and Kennar, both Northern Thunder juniors, are now role models for young rugby league players across the state with their own dreams of making it to the top and running out in the purple jersey.
“As little kids this is what we dreamed of, to play together on the big stage. To finally have the opportunity is a dream come true,” Kennar said.
Before Monday, the pair have played just one game in Storm colours together at NRL level, coming in Round 5 this season. After that game Tonumaipea described himself as ‘proud’ of his great mate Kennar.
“It’s a dream come true, we’ve started from a really young age hanging out at the park, kicking the footy to each other, playing in the same AFL team, playing in the same rugby league team,” Tonumaipea said.
“Now to run out especially on such a big occasion, an ANZAC Day clash is awesome, I can’t wait.
“We wouldn’t be the country we are if it wasn’t for the soldiers back then so it’s a massive privilege to pull on the jersey and play on such a special day.”
In his debut season of 2014, Tonumaipea featured in Storm’s ANZAC Day game, scoring a try in front of a near sell out crowd of 28,716. On that occasion he also lined up with fellow Victorian Fonua.
Monday night will be Kennar’s first appearance on the special day, however just as Tonumaipea had two years ago, he won’t have to look too far for some Victorian inspiration.