Hard lessons helping Storm's Fonua
He has gone through his ups and downs this season but the last six weeks has shown that the sky is the limit for Storm centre Mahe Fonua.
Dropped twice in the first half of the season due to poor form, the 21-year-old Victorian has bounced back to cement his place in Craig Bellamy’s starting 13.
In last weekend’s win over the Raiders Fonua scored two difference-making tries during the 14-point win in a near best-on-field performance.
His past five games in particular have seen the livewire average just over 134 metres a game, including a season-high 192-metre performance against the Dragons in Round 16.
The ups and downs of Fonua’s season are perhaps a reflection of his side’s 2014 campaign as the side braces for an 8th v 6th clash against the Broncos on Friday night.
Melbourne must back up their performance against the Raiders just five days ago as they strive for greater consistency in their play.
That search is one this centre was forced to undertake after being dropped twice in the space of three weeks this season.
“It is tough for anyone to get dropped back and forth from reserve grade to first grade,” Fonua told NRL.com.
“It is all about finding consistency and doing your job that the coach asks of you each week to the best that I can do and just doing things consistently well.
“Earlier in the year I think I was just lacking that consistency so that is what probably had me falling in and out of the team.”
Since being recalled to the Melbourne team in Round 13 Fonua has alternated between the centres and wing, though he admits the former is where he feels most at home.
For a player with just 29 games of NRL experience under his belt each minute at the top level is a chance to grow in stature.
The opportunity the past six weeks has presented is one Fonua has thoroughly enjoyed.
“Getting the chance to play each week… has boosted the confidence in myself that I can do those little things well, that I am actually capable of doing it,” said Fonua.
“I just go into each game trying to do my job and doing what the coach asks of me.
“Each week I just focus on little things and try and do them to the best of my ability and hopefully be rewarded with another game the next week.”
Born and raised in Melbourne, Fonua become the first Victorian player to represent the Storm at NRL level after making his debut in Round 23, 2012.
This season winger Young Tonumaipea become the second Victorian to don the purple jersey and the important pathway both young men have undertaken is not lost on either of them.
“I am so fortunate to play for a club in my state,” said Fonua.
“This year Young was able to debut so it has opened up a pathway for younger kids coming through the Victorian ranks, that there are kids that can go all the way through and that there is light at the end of the tunnel there.”
Fonua will aim to continue his hot run of form when Melbourne take on the Broncos at 7.40pm on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.