02 September 2023 Melbourne Australia. Describing himself as just a kid from Samoa, Sualauvi “Sua” Faalogo pulled off a debut to remember as Melbourne Storm took out the Brisbane Broncos 32-22 at the Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.
His first touch at the NRL was a scintillating linebreak before he had a one-two with Ryan Papenhuyzen to score his first ever try, with the play leaving Queensland great Paul Vautin stunned.
“That got me out of my seat!” Vautin exclaimed on Nine’s coverage.
“Sua Fa’alogo, remember that name. I can’t remember a first touch better by an NRL player … Sua Fa’alogo. Remember that name!”
Faalogo came off the bench in the 34th minute to slot in at fullback and wasted no time to settle in when he blitzed through the middle of the park to score a try only two minutes into his maiden NRL game.
Melbourne Storm Coach Craig Bellamy’s decision to rest the majority of his stars for Melbourne’s last round clash with Brisbane opened the door for Sua Fa’alogo to make his long-awaited NRL debut and the kid from Samoa did not disappoint.
Fa’alogo lit up Suncorp Stadium with his lightning speed off the mark constantly catching the opposition defence cold as Melbourne recorded their 14th straight win over Brisbane.
In just over 40 minutes on the field, he terrorised the Broncos to grab two tries during a dream debut that included two line breaks, 108 run metres and five tackle busts.
The 20 year old also gained an immediate social media following of fans including the Samoan tapuaiga ot fans back in the homeland and across the globe.
Fa’alogo admitted he was caught by surprise when he learned he would be facing the Broncos.
“I wasn’t expecting it. I never thought I would get a chance to play here at Suncorp, and I’m just very grateful to be here,” he said after the match.
“Bells (Storm coach Craig Bellamy) just talked to me said to keep it simple and play to my strengths.
Faalogo gave thanks and praise to God, and acknowledged the strong support of his family.
“I was just so grateful … never thought (as) a kid from Samoa I would get a debut.. I am just so grateful,” Faalogo said after the match.
“I came straight from Samoa, and never thought I would play NRL.”
Faalogo moved to Melbourne from Samoa as a 13 year old. His family had come to Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night prepared to cheer on the rising star from the grandstands with a banner specially made for his debut.
Faalogo is a success story for Melbourne, as he became the fifth Victorian to represent the club, joining fellow Samoan Young Tonumaipea as one of the few Victorians to do so.
After Fa’alogo tore the Broncos apart, Coach Bellamy admitted the youngster had been on the precipice of making his NRL bow for some time.
“There were a lot of times during the year where we wanted to give him a start, but it just wasn’t the right time nor the right game,” the coach said.
“We knew he was a brave little player and quick – that’s his strength.”
“He still needs to learn a few things about the game which we’re trying to do as quickly as we can,” Bellamy said.
“But we all see the potential that he’s got. I’m sure he’s going to be a regular first grader in the not-too-distant future.”
In May 2019 at just 18 years old, Sua Fa’alogo had signed a three-year contract with Melbourne Storm from 2022 until the end of the 2024 season.
At the time, Melbourne Storm Recruitment Officer and Pathways Manager Tim Glasby said Sua’s talent is matched by his work ethic.
“Sua is an exceptional young talent and his speed, footwork and strength has seen him become one of the standout players of the SG Ball competition..,” Glasby had said of the kid from Samoa.
“Most importantly, he has a very good work ethic and a great attitude. He wants to work hard and improve his game.”
These past two seasons, Faalogo has played for Sunshine Coast Falcons in the Hostplus Cup, scoring a try in the feeder club’s elimination final victory last weekend.
Photos: Melbourne Storm.