Scouting Stories: Mahe Fonua

It was an audition that lasted 10 seconds before the call was made - Mahe was in.

During the 2010 season Melbourne Storm's Under-20s were doing a contact session out a gym and needed one more player to fill the numbers.

They contacted the coach of their SG Ball side to request a player and the coach hesitantly offered up a 17-year-old kid by the name of Mahe Fonua.

Current Storm senior assistant coach Adam O'Brien, who was part of the Under-20s coaching staff at the time, recalls the first time he laid eyes on the young Victorian as he walked into the gym that day.

"Mahe had a big grin with this gold tooth, Mohawk hair-cut so my first impression of him wasn't great," O'Brien said.

However this was a case where first impressions certainly did not last.

"We put him in this contact session and I reckon 10 seconds into it I walked out, rang the SG Ball coach and told him 'you won't be getting him back, he's staying with us'," O'Brien said.

"I think we were concerned he was not going to be physically up to it and he just man handled our guys so we ended up keeping him for the rest of the year.

"I think there were a few guys that were shocked when he started throwing people around."

Future Premiership players Jesse Bromwich, Justin O'Neill and Gareth Widdop were also in the gym that day.

Fonua earned his place alongside them in the Under-20s system before progressing to the full-time squad.

Fast forward to Round 23, 2012 against the Gold Coast Titans and Fonua became the first Victorian born and bred player to pull on the purple jersey.

He went on to play a total of 51 games for Melbourne, scoring 24 tries before moving to the UK Super League at the end of 2015.

It was a special journey for the boy from Melbourne, that dated back to that one gym session.

"That probably enhanced him to become the first Victorian to play NRL down here," O'Brien said.

"He was so physical and had raw aggression, that was the way he played when he was with us. When he was on, he was unstoppable."