Just “a kid from Samoa”, Sualauvi Faalogo was a sensation on debut as Melbourne kept their incredible record against the Brisbane Broncos intact with their 40th win in 54 matches.
Faalogo, who came off the bench in the 34th minute to slot in at fullback, took no time at all to settle in, making a line break and scoring a try only two minutes into his maiden NRL game.
He finished the match with a double, two line breaks, 108 run metres and an immediate cult following.
“I was just so grateful … never thought (as) a kid from Samoa would get a debut, I am just so grateful," Faalogo said.
“I came straight from Samoa, never thought I would play NRL.”
A success story for Melbourne, Faalogo became the fifth Victorian to represent the club, having played his junior rugby league in Australia with Northern Thunder, progressing through the SG Ball and Jersey Flegg system with the competitions with the Storm.
These past two seasons, he has played for Sunshine Coast Falcons in the Hostplus Cup, scoring a try in the feeder club’s elimination final victory last weekend.
Sualauvi Faalogo Try
“I am from Melbourne, I live in Melbourne, I played my junior footy in Melbourne and then just got lucky and Storm offered me an opportunity,” Faalogo said.
One of three Storm debutants on display in the match, along with Jack Howarth and Joe Chan, coach Craig Bellamy was full of praise for his young fullback’s performance.
“There were lots of times during the year where we wanted to give him a start and it probably wasn't the right time or the right game (and) obviously he got his opportunity,” Bellamy said.
“We know he is a brave little player and obviously quick. That is his strength.
“He still needs to learn a few things about the game and we are trying to do that as quickly as we can.
“We all see the potential that he has got and I am sure he is going to be a regular first grader in the not too distant future.”
However, the Storm continue to be blessed with a number of stars who can play at the back, so he will have to bide his time to get another opportunity.
With Nick Meaney and Ryan Papenhuyzen ahead of him, Faalogo has no shortage of people to learn from at the club.
Sualauvi Faalogo Try
“I look up to him [Papenhuyzen], I have learnt so much from him, playing with him makes your job easier and I am so grateful to get to debut with Paps,” Faalogo said.
“[Before the game] he just told to me to keep playing my game, keep it simple, keep playing to my strengths, keep doing what I have been doing in Cup, so I am just so grateful.
“Paps has been helping me a lot and, Billy (Slater) as well, always comes here once a week.
“I've been learning a lot from him and (he has been) helping me with my footy.
“Pretty much just keeping it simple and just doing my role at the back as fullback.”