When COVID-19 first appeared, Melbourne Storm centre Justin Olam feared the worst.
Via: Roy Ward/The Age.
Olam's worries weren't about the NRL season and interrupting the Storm's charge for the premiership, he feared for his homeland, Papua New Guinea.
The 26-year-old has been at the Storm since late in 2017 after impressing with the PNG Hunters in the Queensland Cup and has made Melbourne his second home.
On Friday the Storm announced Olam had re-signed until the end of 2022 and it's a fitting reward for a player who struggled to get a game until late last season but now sits among their starting 13.
However a new contract means little in the face of a global pandemic and the more Olam read about COVID-19, the more he feared for loved ones back at home due to the close way they live daily life, especially in the villages, and their modest health system.
PNG's Health Minister Jelta Wong expressed similar concerns but, so far, the nation has recorded just eight cases across four regions, although they remain vigilant as an outbreak could spread rapidly.
“They had eight cases and they have contained it and everyone has recovered, it was to my surprise as I thought it was going to get worse," Olam told The Age on Friday.
“With the way we live, how close we all are but it's been good. That's the scary thing, it can spread so fast."