Tonumaipea sticks with Storm, Leuluai signs
Storm winger Young Tonumaipea has re-signed with his hometown team of Melbourne, in a deal that will keep the 23-year-old at the Storm through to the end of 2018.
Tonumaipea was the second of three Victorians to ever play for the Storm when he made his debut in 2014, and is excited at the prospect of representing his home city for years to come.
"It's awesome to get [the deal] of the way, I was speaking to the club at the start of the year but to finally seal the deal, it's awesome," Tonumaipea said.
"My priority was to stay here, obviously with me being Victorian I get to stay at home, and also my family is here.
"To stay here with the current culture at the club and the kind of players we have around here where I get to learn, and also the coach and the opportunity he gave me, they were just some of the many reasons."
In a further boost for the club, Roosters forward Vincent Leuluai has headed south to sign with the Storm through to the end of the 2018 season, with PNG Hunters winger Justin Olam also set to make the move to Melbourne at the conclusion of the 2016 season on a two-year deal.
While Leuluai's switch is effective immediately, he is currently recovering from a knee injury and is unlikely to feature in first grade this season.
Tonumaipea was unsure of his future before the season began, but said he didn't entertain other offers before the Storm came calling, and instead just tried to focus on what he could do on the field.
"I wasn't really looking anywhere else, at the start of the year I was chosen to play in Round 1, so knowing it could have been my last year it was more for me to do the best I can and leave nothing behind," Tonumaipea said.
The versatile youngster has already played in three positions so far this season and most recently at fullback, where he'd only played a handful of games in that position in the under-20s.
Tonumaipea said the new role was rough at first, but like those before him this season he knew he just needed to give it everything.
"It was a bit like the deep end at the start, and with the likes of Billy Slater and Cameron Munster before me and they're massive boosts to fill, so when Bellamy gave me the chance to play at number 1 I took it straight away and just tried my best," Tonumaipea said.
The positional changes have been necessary for Tonumaipea and some of his teammates so far this season due to the lengthy injury list at the Storm, although with players set to return over the coming weeks the 23-year-old is bracing himself for a fierce battle for spots.
"It's real competitive but I guess we wouldn't have it any other way," Tonumaipea said.
"It pushes all the boys in the team to play the best they can and they know that we're knocking on the door, and it's good at the same time for everyone to know they have to show up every week."
As for what position the utility hopes to cement for the remainder of the season, Tonumaipea doesn't have a preference.
"Just wherever Craig wants me to play, to be in the team that's all I ever want, so just to make the starting squad is good enough for me," Tonumaipea said.