Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma will become just the 13th player in history to reach 150 NRL games for the club when he lines up this Friday against the New Zealand Warriors.
Nofoaluma, who first debuted for Wests Tigers back in 2013, will take his customary spot on the right wing in what has become a familiar sight for Wests Tigers fans, having overcome a number of setbacks and hurdles in his time with the club.
As the Campbelltown junior approaches his milestone game this week, we look back at the years that have made Nofoaluma into the player he is today.
Despite not debuting until the following year, Nofoaluma first appeared on the radar of NRL fans with his eye-catching performances in the 2012 NYC competition — scoring a try as Wests Tigers defeated the Canberra Raiders in the Grand Final. Having previously played for Australian Schoolboys and NSW junior sides, Nofoaluma would re-sign with the club midway through the season, having crossed for nine tries in the opening 10 games of the year, keeping him until 2014.
Nofoaluma would make his first-grade debut in Round 10 of the 2013 season, playing against a red-hot Rabbitohs side that won comfortably. The winger wouldn't have to wait long to create headlines, though, crossing in the dying minutes the following week to give his side a win over the Cowboys at Leichhardt Oval.
Later that year, the high-flying outside back would show his full attacking prowess against the Sea Eagles with a famous try that would eventually win the Dally M Try of the Year. His finish over the top of Manly winger Jorge Taufua — with his entire body over the sideline — was the standout of his many four-pointers that year, as he crossed for eight tries in total from his 15 games.
That Moment: David Nofoaluma
A regular on the wing now for Wests Tigers, Nofoaluma secured his long-term future with the club in 2014 by inking a four-year contract extension. Injuries would hamper his on-field contributions that season, however, with the winger only playing 15 games — scoring seven tries — while he also missed out on his chance to represent Samoa in the Pacific Rugby League Invitational clash against Fiji.
Battling through off-season surgery, Nofoaluma would mark his return to the NRL in Round 10 that season as he formed a strong right-wing partnership with Kevin Naiqama. Crossing for six tries in his 10 games that year, the winger would earn his first senior representative honour by featuring for the Prime Minister's XIII against Papua New Guinea. Nofoaluma scored two tries in a 40-12 win for the green and gold to cap off a strong end-of-season finish for the local junior.
Nofoaluma achieved further representative success in 2016 when selected for City Origin, but lasted only a handful of minutes after going off with a head knock — watching on as his replacement in Aaron Gray scored four tries on the wing. At club level, it was arguably the best year of Nofoaluma's career as he achieved then career highs in games played (23), tries (14), linebreaks (16) and run metres (3,033) as he fell one game short of making his maiden finals appearance.
Following the end of the regular season, Nofoaluma finally made his international debut for Samoa — playing fullback against Fiji in the nation's capital.
Having taken his game to new heights in 2016, Nofoaluma began to establish himself as one of the game's premier wingers in 2017 with another superb individual season. Despite playing through a groin injury and hernia for the majority of the season, the Campbelltown junior finished the year as one of the top five players in the game for run metres, offloads and tackle breaks, while also eight tries and 15 linebreaks to his ever-growing tally. Having played in every game for the club that year, Nofoaluma inked another long-term contract extension with the club — despite heavy reported interest from rivals — and was voted by his peers as Winger in the Rugby League Players' Association Dream Team of the Year.
A shock omission from the side to start the year, Nofoaluma scored two tries in his opening round reserve-grade game before earning his way back into the side for Round 2 — playing on the wing as Wests Tigers downed the Melbourne Storm in what was Billy Slater's 300th game for the club. It was a tough season of injuries for the winger, who missed several matches with a calf complaint and concussion, but still managed to chalk up his 100th game for the club and his 49th career try.
Sidelined to start the year with a shoulder injury, Nofoaluma eventually returned to the field in Round 11 and finished the year with aplomb as Wests Tigers again fell agonisingly short of a finals appearance. Scoring eight tries in his 14 games, Nofoaluma bagged his first career hat-trick — playing at his local Campbelltown Sports Stadium — while averaging over 150 metres per game to end the year.
Perhaps Nofoaluma's finest individual season came in a 2020 campaign disrupted by COVID where he racked up an incredible 17 tries in 20 matches. The winger also added a remarkable seven try assists — the most by any winger in the competition — as his try-scoring exploits were only bettered by Rabbitohs flyer Alex Johnston and Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt in the final round of the regular season. With a career high 178 running metres per game, Nofoaluma became the first Wests Tigers player to be named the Dally M Winger of the Year while he also took out the club's player of the year Kelly-Barnes Award at its end-of-season Presentation Night.
All of David Nofoaluma's 2020 tries
Having played every game so far this season, Nofoaluma will bring up the 150-game milestone on Friday night as he also closes in on the club's all-time top try-scorer record, trailing Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence by just four tries. The winger is in good form — having scored three tries in his past two games — and will be keen for another good team performance after the side's win over the Knights last week.