Tepai Moeroa has gone from featuring in the worst season in more than 50 years of Australian football codes to the verge of rugby league history after making his long-awaited Storm debut.
Moeroa's 10-minute cameo off the bench against Manly has been three interstate moves and two frustrating years in the making after he barely saw game-time with the Waratahs.
The former Eel is understood to have been paid out around $100,000 of his Rugby Australia contract when he was released in mid-June, just days before NSW slumped to the final loss of a brutal 0-13 season.
Across all four Australian football codes, no team has gone winless from a campaign featuring more than 10 games since rugby league's Roosters in 1966.
Moeroa only played a handful of Super Rugby games across two seasons in an underwhelming code switch, and will be hard pressed keeping his bench spot for the Storm with Felise Kaufusi (suspension), Aaron Pene (Achilles) both available against the Raiders and Nelson Asofa-Solomona (hamstring) also a chance of returning.
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Nonetheless his short-term, $100,000 deal for the rest of the year has seen Moeroa join Melbourne in the middle of a four-month winning streak that is now closing in on the 1975 Roosters all-time record of 19 straight victories.
"It's an awesome change. We struggled at the Waratahs and coming to Melbourne, we're 17 in a row - so it's crazy," Moeroa said on Monday.
"I enjoyed my time with the Waratahs – the playing group and the staff that were there.
"But for the transition to be successful I might've needed a couple more years, might've needed to make that move a couple of years earlier to give it a solid crack.
"Things didn't work out but I'm back in league and I plan to stay here long-term.
"There's been a few injuries that have let me debut [for the Storm] but if I can hold onto a bench spot and play finals footy, that'd be awesome."
Melbourne are yet to make a call on whether Moeroa will be offered an extension beyond 2021, with both player and club's focus on getting the 25-year-old up to speed with a game that has changed markedly in his absence.
The last of Moeroa's 112 Parramatta games came before the six-again rule's introduction, and he freely admits his fitness is still short of where it needs to be.
His cause hasn't been helped by the shifting COVID-19 landscape that has limited him to two Intrust Super Cup appearances since June.
Moeroa thrilled to be at Storm after rugby stint
Or a whirlwind two months that have seen Moeroa move from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast, down to Melbourne and then back up to Noosa as the Storm's NRL base was relocated.
His mid-season signing was sealed within a week of meeting Craig Bellamy and Frank Ponissi, and now with his partner and three children settled in Storm camp, Moeroa hopes to convert his maiden outing into a 2022 contract.
"I would love to stay at the Storm," he said.
"The coaching staff and the players have all been welcoming and they obviously have a reputation for developing players and the smart option would be to stay at the Storm.
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"It's been so easy when everyone's willing to help out with my family.
"We've had to move three or four times and the club's made it easy with everyone pitching in and helping out.
"I'd be crazy not to want to stay."