TINO TIME: Gympie gun’s best moments in NRL Grand Final year
RUGBY LEAGUE: Just four years ago, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui was a Gympie Devils prodigy getting ready to play for the Queensland Under-16s.
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Fast forward to October 24, 2020, and he’s mere hours away from the biggest stage of them all.
On Sunday night the boy from Widgee will run onto the hallowed ANZ Stadium turf as he and his Melbourne Storm teammates try and capture the club’s fourth NRL premiership.
And he will be playing for all that glory in just his 27th career appearance – and last for the Storm before he joins the Gold Coast Titans on a lucrative contract in 2021.
The son of Fereti and Diane spoke of his hometown pride earlier this week.
“They are my world, my everything,” he said of his family.
“They have just done so much for me growing up.
“I love them so much.
“My daughter and partner are my world as well.
“Everything I do is for them.
“It would be awesome to get a ring for them and just pay tribute to everything they have done for me.
“I always get messages from the Devils boys, the support is amazing and motivates me to get the win for them,” he said.
Here’s a look at five of Tino’s most dominant performances in Storm colours on the way to a grand final this year:
ROUND 5 vs NEWCASTLE
In 38 minutes off the bench, a rampaging Tino scored his first NRL career try in a 26-12 win over the Knights.
The 20-year-old broke three tackles, made one line break and logged 44 post-contact metres, while making 28 tackles in defence.
ROUND 9 vs CANBERRA
Playing a full 80 minutes for the first time in his career, Tino helped the Storm carve out a gutsy 20-14 win against the Raiders, making 36 tackles and gaining 113 metres as a workhorse in the 2nd row.
ROUND 11 vs BRISBANE
Tino’s Storm dismantled the hapless Broncos 46-8, and Gympie’s raging bull was a big reason why.
The imposing, 107kg behemoth scored two tries on the leaky Brisbane defence, with two line breaks, 51 post-contact metres and a new season high of 168 running metres.
ROUND 12 vs NEWCASTLE
Tino’s hot form continued the very next week, scoring another try against what proved to be one of his favourite opponents in Season 2020.
In the 26-16 Storm victory Fa’asuamaleaui had nine tackle breaks and a line break for a massive 89 post-contact metres, on the way to breaking his week-old metreage PB with 199.
ROUND 17 vs SOUTH SYDNEY
Tino did a bit of everything in this game, scoring yet another try while logging 101 run metres and making 40 tackles for the match, missing just one.
The Storm beat the Bunnies 22-16, and it would be the first of a three-match streak in which Tino would cross the try line.