There wasn't a specific moment when Craig Ingebrigtsen realised he was coaching someone out of the ordinary in Justin Olam. It was more like a minute. Or 40 of them, to be precise.
Via Phil Lutton/SMH.
It was 2017 and Ingebrigtsen, who was in charge of Melbourne's feeder team, the Sunshine Coast Falcons in the Intrust Super Cup season, was still trying to find out what he had on his hands in the form of Olam, a reserved Papua New Guinean who had grown up in the remote highlands village of Gon and never even played the game competitively until he was 18.
The Storm had seen enough from him the previous year, when he played for the PNG Hunters, to invite him to the club on a train-and-trial basis.
Word had filtered up that the Storm wanted Olam to play the first half only, news that was greeted with dismay by the centre when Ingebrigtsen gave him the news. Olam is so humble and polite that it's difficult to believe he could ever get agitated, and this was about as close as he would get.
With the clock ticking, Olam played like it was the last time he would ever be allowed to lace up the boots. He tore the Hunters, many of them his former teammates, to shreds in a performance that left Ingebrigtsen shaking his head in disbelief.
"He was a little bit unhappy to only play that much but I said to him ‘go out and make the most of it and don't waste a second'. I've never seen anything like it," Ingebrigtsen recalls.