On the run: Melbourne Storm's Mahe Fonua, its first true-blue Victorian talent and playing his first NRL game, makes a dash. Photo: Getty Images
MELBOURNE Storm winger Sisa Waqa believes that he will be fit for Sunday’s NRL grand final against Canterbury, which if correct, would leave Storm’s first Victorian born-and-bred talent Mahe Fonua on the sidelines.
Waqa pulled out of the Storm’s preliminary final win against Manly last Friday after jarring his knee, with Fonua, who had been 18th man, being called in after the pre-game warm up.
Waqa said the knee, which he hurt when landing on it after he left to catch a ball, had been giving him a "weird and uncomfortable feeling" and he decided to make the tough call to stand down. However, he said it was now feeling much improved after a weekend of treatment.
"It’s heaps better," Waqa said.
"After the scans on Saturday I got two injections, a cortisone and one that takes a bit of fluid out, and I feel heaps better. The whole day yesterday I got some treatment on it and kept icing it and this morning I feel a lot better."
"... I didn’t want to play a 50 or 60 per cent (capacity) which is no good for the team. It is a tough call, I was pretty disappointed. I was a bit shattered but I had faith the boys would get up on Friday night so I decided to pull out."
Fonua made his NRL debut in the round-23 game against Gold Coast and has since played a further three games. The 21-year-old said while he would like to know early in the week whether he would be playing, so that he could mentally prepare, he was grateful to be part of a grand final buildup.
"Even if I’m 18th man again I’ll just ... go into the game being calm and relaxed and not put too much pressure on myself and just trying to get my job done," Fonua said.
"To be part of a grand final team and campaign, and for some of these boys it’s their last game that they’ll put the Melbourne Storm jersey on - it will mean a lot."
He said he had learnt from his first game, where he made a number of nervous mistakes, and now concentrates on the basics of his game.
"I didn’t get a good pre-season under my belt because I was injured and was an alternate, but like they say good things come to those who work hard, I tried to put myself in that position, just put my head down and work...
"I’ve just been real fortunate with the way things have gone throughout the season especially towards the back end of the season where I been playing some finals."