Sharks forward Sam Tagataese believes the Melbourne Storm are responsible for cultivating his drive to succeed in the NRL.
Tagataese debuted for the Storm in 2007 and went on to play 18 NRL games at the club over a period where Melbourne reached two grand finals.
The now 155-game veteran said playing part in the Storm's highly successful squad in his debut season showed him what was required to succeed in the NRL.
Tagataese, 29, has been at the Sharks since 2011 – with three seasons at the Titans in between – but couldn't wait to collide with former teammates Cameron Smith and Cooper Crook in the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final on Sunday.
"I'm so glad I started at Melbourne because it's where I learnt my trade and where I learnt professionalism because the culture there is remarkable. Ever since I tried to bring that experience into every other club I've played for," Tagataese told NRL.com.
"What I picked up from the Storm is still what I base my preparation into games and training around. Going through that period with Melbourne definitely shaped me as a player."
Tagataese believes the lessons from his Melbourne years helped fuel his desire to return from a fractured scapula in time for the Sharks' first grand final in a unified competition since 1978.
Failing to play for almost two months, Tagataese is likely to take his place in the grand final at the expense of rookie Kurt Capewell.
Tagataese told NRL.com earlier this week that he's passed every required test on his shoulder and his fate now lies in coach Shane Flanagan's hands.
"To be a part of the team from Round 1 to Round 22 before I hurt my shoulder, I'd like to think I played a big influence in the team so far this year," he said.
"That really encouraged me to get back in time."
Tagataese was ultimately complimentary of the efforts of his Sharks teammates in keeping their season – and his hopes of playing again in 2016 – alive.
"Every time I've been chatting to the boys in recent weeks they'd ask: 'Are you good to go?' and I'd always just say 'Win one more game and I'll be good to go'," he laughed.
"So every time they have won lately they have been giving me every chance to get back. Now the boys have come this far, it's all up to 'Flanno' to pick me [in the final side]."
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