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Nofoaluma confident about strong return

Words: Dan Talintyre | Video: Craig Heydon

BACK running after having serious knee surgery at the end of 2014, Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma says his confidence and self-belief is as high as it has ever been as he prepares for his best season yet under new Coach Jason Taylor.

Nofoaluma, who burst on to the scene in 2013 with a match-winning try in just his second NRL game and then the Dally M Try of the Year two months later, went under the knife after scoring a try against Manly in Round 18, 2014. A successful operation left the winger with an expected recovery time of around eight months — putting his return around the same time as the Club’s 2015 season opener against the Gold Coast Titans — and while it’s still unclear whether the Campbelltown junior will be available for selection in that match, his focus and desire for the year ahead remains steadfast.

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“Even though I’ve had this operation on myself,” reflected Nofoaluma after another tough pre-season training session, “I just want to come back with even more confidence and come back as a stronger player as well.

“There’s plenty that I can improve on in my game,” he said.

“I want to be better with my finishing and my work-rate coming out of our own end as well as some other stuff, so there’s lots for me to work on this year.”

After missing out on making his international debut for Samoa and playing just 15 NRL games due to injury in 2014, the 21-year-old said he’d taken plenty of motivation and confidence from those alongside him in the rehabilitation group, as well as from veteran winger and leading try-scorer last year, Pat Richards.

“You do develop a good bond with the boys alongside you in rehab,” he said.

“It’s not fun being there, which is right, but the good thing is that you’re able to help each other out and try to encourage each other to work harder.

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“I’d like to be that player where I can go on to have a fantastic career and motivate other young guys [as] I have been motivated myself by some guys in this team like Patty [Richards]. I think he had a serious injury early in his career and yet he’s gone on to do so much, so I know that I can do the same.

“I don’t want to let this injury get the better of me and I know that it won’t.

“I think confidence is the main thing for me next season.

“The group of boys here are all so tight; even with some of the older guys being around and some new guys coming in, there’s still such a great feeling here.

“There’s been lots of change at the Club in the last few months, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the belief that’s in this group.”