Fa'aoso follows Newton's footsteps
Richie Fa'aoso ... has not had many chances this season. Photo: Getty Images
WHEN listening to Richie Fa'aoso's story it is hard not to be reminded of another from 2007.
No longer wanted at Newcastle by new coach Wayne Bennett, Fa'aoso was given a lifeline mid-way through the season by Melbourne, who were looking for cover in the forwards. A few months later, the Knights discard is preparing to play in a grand final for the Storm, who will take on Canterbury on Sunday.
Fa'aoso's journey carries similarities to that of Clint Newton who played an integral role in the the Storm's grand final win over Manly in 2007 after departing Newcastle part way through the season, although Newton's split with then Knights coach Brian Smith was more acrimonious.
Like Newton, who left to play for English Super League club Hull KR, the 28-year-old front-rower will play only part of one season with the Storm, having signed with Manly for next year.
Fa'aoso has not had many chances this season, having played a handful of games since arriving in Melbourne and will get his chance in the grand final squad after prop Jason Ryles aggravated a hamstring injury.
But the hard-running prop, who since his NRL debut in 2004 has played for Penrith, Sydney Roosters, English Super League club Castleford, Parramatta, Newcastle and now Melbourne, has impressed with his performances, including against his future club in last Friday's preliminary final.
Fa'aoso said he wanted to make the most of his time in Melbourne by learning all he could from coach Craig Bellamy and the senior players. ''I'm just grateful that Melbourne's given me an opportunity,'' he said.
''It didn't go so good for me in Newcastle but it takes nothing away from them. They're a great club but I'm just grateful I'm part of this. I'm a happy man.
''I just wasn't playing the best [at Newcastle]. I left Wayne with no choice really. I was playing without a bit of confidence as well. I just came down here and hoped for the best because they've got a great culture and Craig usually gets the best out of players and he's starting to get the best out of me now.''