NRL Wests Tigers news: David Nofoaluma reflects on Melbourne Storm stint

NRL Wests Tigers news: David Nofoaluma reflects on Melbourne Storm stint

David Nofoaluma was exhausted and wondering where his NRL career was going. But playing under Craig Bellamy in the Storm changed everything, writes BRENDAN BRADFORD.

Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma says his six games with the Storm last season helped reignite his ailing passion for rugby league.

He also wants to pass on the lessons he learned in Melbourne if the Tigers look to climb off the bottom of the ladder in 2023.

2020 Winger of the Year Dally M joined Melbourne on loan in August as Craig Bellamy’s side struggled with an outside back injury crisis.

The opportunity to move south came at perfect time for Nofoaluma, who admits he struggled to find motivation after nine years in the NRL without playing finals football.

“To be honest, I had lost interest in the game…I had lost interest,” the 29-year-old told CODE Sports.

In May last year, the Tigers’ lead group relegated Nofoaluma to the reserves after he was caught drinking while recovering from a blow to the head.

He played twice for the Magpies and even after being reinstated to the NRL team he still wasn’t enjoying his football.

Then he suggested a move to Melbourne.

“I was the one who mentioned it to Sheensy (Tim Sheens),” he says.

“My headspace wasn’t where I wanted it to be.

“I haven’t had success in 10 years, I hadn’t played a final and that opportunity down in Melbourne when they were trying to find a full-back, I think I’d be stupid not to take that opportunity. ”

It didn’t take long for Nofoaluma to find the spark again.

“One of my idols was Greg Inglis – I loved watching him play – and they have so much history and success. I was quite honored to be there,” he says.

“Then on day one I met Billy (Slater) and he gave me some important pointers and they just made me feel like a Melbourne Storm player even though I had only just gotten there.”

The move proved an instant hit, with Nofoaluma scoring three tries in his first three games, including a win over Penrith and a 60-12 demolition from Brisbane.

“I thought we were going straight to the grand finals, like we did, it was different,” he laughs.

“I wasn’t used to winning back-to-back games. I’ve tried to adjust and adapt. You can see why these guys are so happy and enjoying life. I think everyone could see that I was enjoying it a little too much.

“I started to get comfortable.”

Melbourne’s season ended in a qualifying final defeat by Canberra – Nofoaluma’s first taste of finals football – and he admits it wasn’t easy leaving The Storm.

“It was difficult to say goodbye,” he says.

“Everyone wants to do what they love. Whatever the job, you want to work harder when you’re happy and having fun because you love what you do.

“If you have this environment, why would you want to leave?”

As hard as it may have been getting out of AAMI Park for the last time, Nofoaluma says his taste of the Storm setup reignited the fire in him at Concord.

“I’m back here now and I said when I first got down there that if I get involved in something I put all my effort into it, especially if it’s something new,” he says.

“Coming back to the Tigers is like something new for me. That’s how I see it and I want to use all my strength for it now.

“Whatever happens I’m confident we can do our best and we definitely have the team to do it now. We get along really well and I’m excited.”

When asked what Storm’s secret to success is, Nofoaluma says: “The Melbourne Storm is no secret. There are no individuals, they just feed on each other.

“They have already established and created this culture of success among themselves. This is drilled into every player. With every player who goes there, I immediately see why they belong. They made it with Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk and this generation of gamers.

“Second, they are such good people. If you’re a good person, they can be hard on you when they have to be, but they understand that it’s not just about football – it’s about life too.”

The Samoan international got a dose of Storm’s tough love when he was on the wrong end of one of Craig Bellamy’s infamous sprays.

Nofoaluma was a rite of passage in many ways, as Nofoaluma’s explosion came the day after he gave away a six-penalty by grabbing the leg of current Tigers teammate Isaiah Papali’i.

He knew exactly what to expect when he entered the briefing room the morning after the 10:14 loss to Parramatta.

“I’ve been waiting for this to be honest. He was too nice to me, so I knew something was wrong,” he says.

“I think everyone gets a spray at some point. I’m old enough to turn it on its head and understand that it has meaning.

“But he’s a real, quality man and I can see how much he cares about his players.”

Now 29, Nofoaluma is one of the older members of a Tigers squad that has welcomed a host of veteran players this season. Nofoaluma wants to repay the trust the Tigers placed in him when he left for Melbourne last year.

“I think I’ve matured a lot as a player,” he says. “It might have taken a little longer but going to Melbourne really helped.

“It worked in my favor and helped Melbourne. Now that I’m back, I think the Tigers can see that it benefits everyone as well.

“I’m looking forward to starting over and doing my best for the Wests Tigers.”

Brendan BradfordContent Producer

Brendan Bradford is a sportswriter for CODE Sports. It mainly covers martial arts, league, union, cycling and athletics. Brendan has worked in sports media for a decade covering world title fights, world championships, grand slams and spring tours.

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