Olam a humble role model for PNG kids
Storm centre Justin Olam says he is humbled to be the first graduate from the successful PNG Hunters Intrust Super Cup side to play NRL and honoured to be able to show young kids back in Papua New Guinea that it is not impossible for them to make it to the NRL.
While the PNG Kumuls Test side has generally been bolstered by a few NRL stars alongside local players - such as David Mead, James Segeyaro and Nene Macdonald in recent years - Olam is the first domestic player to graduate from the Hunters team to the NRL.
Olam's chance came when Curtis Scott failed to pull up from an ankle injury suffered in round eight and Young Tonumaipea suffered a hamstring strain at training, resulting in a late call-up.
He had some impressive moments in his team's 34-14 loss to the Dragons at Kogarah, pulling off some big tackles and helping outside man Josh Addo-Carr into space on more than one occasion.
"It's not the result we wanted but it's good for me to have a game and go out there and play. I loved it," the softly-spoken 24-year-old told NRL.com after the game.
"I'm the first to come through the Hunter system to play NRL so I'm really humbled. It's a good pathway. I came through thanks to the Storm giving me the opportunity to play.
"It's great for the pathways, that's the main reason why the Hunters have been established as a club, to make a pathway for young Papua New Guineans to come and make their NRL dream.
"I'm happy to be the first one. For me to be the first one is a message to the young kids in Papua New Guinea that it's not impossible to play NRL.
"I'm really humbled I can be an example."
Olam acquitted himself well in his top-grade debut, putting outside man Josh Addo-Carr away for a try and putting on a few shots in his 10 tackles while also accruing 97 run metres. However he said he was far from satisfied with his own performance.
"It's my first game, I just need to get my body up to the pace and understand the game as well," he said.
"It's different from [Intrust] obviously. I'm not really confident at the moment but if I play a second or third game I know what to do next. I know I'll be very confident my next game."
Olam wasn't sure how long teammates Scott and Tonumaipea would be sidelined. Coach Craig Bellamy also has the option of a fit-again Cheyse Blair, who recently returned from injury as well.
"All I need to do is go back and train well and improve on my mistakes," Olam said.
"Hopefully I get a second call-up."