Big fu­ture for Vik­ings’ prop

From Porirua to Pen­rith

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

Tyson Fuimaono prefers to do his talk­ing on the field, among the big hits and hit-ups.

The unas­sum­ing Wai­tan­girua 17-year-old will make a per­ma­nent move to Syd­ney this week to take up a con­tract with the Pen­rith Pan­thers NRL club. He will join their youth set up. Fin­ish­ing his school­ing will also be a pri­or­ity.

Fuimaono has fol­lowed the ex­pected route to achieve his rugby league dream; a Porirua Vik­ings ju­nior, an NRL trial with the Melbourne Storm in 2009, na­tional elite camp in 2011 and mem­ber of the ju­nior Welling­ton Or­cas from 2009-2011.

He is also a na­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tive in tag foot­ball.

The Pan­thers came call­ing for the 1.93m prop in Jan­uary and he went to Australia for three weeks to check out their fa­cil­i­ties and play trial matches.

Proud mum Diana says ‘‘he was def­i­nitely noted and no­ticed’’ with some eye-catch­ing per­for­mances.

‘‘It was cool, I re­ally en­joyed be­ing over there, train­ing and play­ing,’’ says Fuimaono. ‘‘We got to watch the se­niors train. That was a shock to see [the in­ten­sity].’’

Although Pen­rith wanted him signed straight away, his ed­u­ca­tion at Tawa Col­lege was the fam­ily’s pri­or­ity. But an im­proved con­tract was emailed last month, with air­fares, school­ing, accommodation and other es­sen­tials firmed up. So off he goes, with the bless­ing of his par­ents.

‘‘I’m not ner­vous. This is a huge op­por­tu­nity and I just want to take the chance I’ve been given,’’ says Fuimaono. ‘‘We’ll be straight into it. Games start pretty soon and I just want to get out on the field. I love it, be­ing part of a team and do­ing my job, mak­ing the runs and big tack­les.’’

Fuimaono will play in the SG Ball com­pe­ti­tion, a league in New South Wales for un­der-18 play­ers. His dream is to play in the NRL and go one step fur­ther, wear­ing the blue for NSW in State of Ori­gin. He is el­i­gi­ble as he was born in Australia.

His mother says it will be sad to see him leave home, but this is his fu­ture. ‘‘We just want him to go for it.’’ She says it was vi­tal he fin­ished his school­ing, so that if a ca­reer in footy did not pan out, his backup plan to be a po­lice­man might be re­alised.

Fuimaono wanted to thank im­me­di­ate and ex­tended fam­ily, coaches at the Vik­ings and Or­cas, and Welling­ton league iden­tity Pat Knox, for help­ing him reach his goals.

Tyson Fuimaono has done his ap­pren­tice­ship in rugby league on this side of the Tas­man; now it’s time for the big prop to prove him­self in Australia.

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