Mo­moi­sea to join NRL club

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - TORIKA TOKALAU-CHAN­DRA

Ji­rah Thomas Mo­moi­sea is look­ing for­ward to join­ing the Mel­bourne Storm next month.

The 18-year-old St Paul’s Col­lege stu­dent has signed a one year con­tract with the NRL club’s un­der-20 squad.

Mo­moi­sea is ob­vi­ously ex­cited, shocked at most be­cause nine months ago he hadn’t even con­sid­ered play­ing rugby league pro­fes­sion­ally.

‘‘I only be­gan play­ing rugby league nicely at the be­gin­ning of this year for the school team,’’ Mo­moi­sea says.

‘‘My back­ground is in union, I play a lot of rugby.’’

The for­mer lock and flanker has cap­tained his school’s 1st XV rugby team, risen up through the Auck­land de­vel­op­ment teams and at­tended the Auck­land Blues tri­als this year.

But he re­ally started turn­ing heads on the league field at prop.

A scout from the Storm watched five of Mo­moi­sea’s rugby league games and spoke to his mother Pen­ina to con­sider an op­por­tu­nity with them.

‘‘I love union but I would con­sider tak­ing up any op­por­tu­nity if it meant I could play sports pro­fes­sion­ally.’’

Mo­moi­sea leaves be­hind his mum, younger brother Rocky and grand­par­ents Pafe­lio and Faye at Man­gere Bridge when he flies to Aus­tralia on Novem­ber 28.

‘‘I’ll work hard. I come from a sin­gle-par­ent fam­ily and I saw how hard my mum and grand­par­ents worked to get me and Rocky to where we are.

‘‘I’m do­ing this for them, I will give it every­thing I’ve got and will work hard to make them proud. I only hope that I can give back to them what they have given to me,’’ Mo­moi­sea says.

Other St Paul’s Col­lege stu­dents that have joined NRL clubs this year are AJ Mur­ray with the War­riors and Star Toa with the New­cas­tle Knights.

The col­lege has pro­duced sev­eral sports stars, in­clud­ing NRL’s Stacey Jones, Jerome Ropati and for­mer All Black Bernie Fraser.

St Paul’s Col­lege rugby league coach Dave Mc­Der­mott says Mo­moi­sea is lucky to score a con­tract with the Storm.

‘‘They’re very as­tute and se­lec­tive with their re­cruit­ment which is a com­pli­ment to Ji­rah,’’ Mc­Der­mott says.

Mel­bourne Storm is the home of a con­tin­gent of New Zealan­ders, in­clud­ing Ki­wis cap­tain Jesse Bromwich, Tohu Har­ris, Kevin Proc­tor and Kenny Bromwich.

PHO­TOS: TORIKA TOKALAU-CHAN­DRA & GETTY IM­AGES

Ji­rah Mo­moi­sea, left, with his younger brother Rocky. Inset: Mel­bourne Storm prop and Kiwi cap­tain Jesse Bromwich.

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