Olam’s journey: From PNG to AAMI Park
Imagine walking four hours up the side of a mountain just to play a game of rugby league.
That was just another day in the life of Justin Olam growing up in Papua New Guinea.
Now the Storm winger is preparing to represent his home country when the Kumuls take on England in a World Cup quarter-final this Sunday at AAMI Park.
Olam has been in red hot form throughout the tournament, scoring four tries in total – including a hat-trick against USA last week.
International rugby league is a long way from the PNG highlands, so much so that he has a tough time convincing people of just how far he has come.
“People don’t believe it when I tell them,” Olam told the Herald Sun.
“It is very mountainous. We used to climb three to four hours (each way) just to play. Everyone loves walking.
“The little kids take any objects that look like a ball and start to play rugby.
“We’d pick dead grasses to put a bit of weight in the Coke bottle and just throw it around. When I was a little kid I called myself ‘Billy Slater’ … I haven’t told him yet.”