Leaders of a new generation
By Wayne Cousins, Artwork: Amos Hong
Wednesday 26 June 2013 5:21 PM
Leaders of a new generation
John Skandalis remembers the moment he first saw winger David Nofoaluma play in the Western Suburbs junior competition.
“He was big. He had a big bum too. He still does,’’ Skandalis joked.
“David had that really strong running style you see now. He was always that little bit better than the other kids. You can pick the ones who have that advantage over the others. We always knew he was going to be a good player.”
Nineteen-year-old Nofoaluma is the latest junior from the Western Suburbs ranks in Campbelltown to play NRL for Wests Tigers. Along with James Tedesco and Sauaso Sue, they are the ‘new generation’ of locals who are following in the footsteps of predecessors Skandalis, Brett Hodgson, Kevin and Ken McGuinness, Chris Lawrence and Simon Dwyer.
“James, Sauaso and David were raised on only knowing the Wests Tigers as their local NRL team. They are proud of their Campbelltown heritage and so they should be,’’ Skandalis stated.
“What these guys have achieved in such a short time is a huge inspiration for the many talented young kids playing rugby league in the Macarthur region. These kids need new role models. It is time for the likes of James, David and Sauaso to lead by example.”
Tedesco and Nofoaluma have spent the past five years playing together after teaming up for the Western Suburbs Harold Matthews team. Unlike today, Nofoaluma wore the number one jersey with Tedesco sporting the ‘2’ on his back.
“David was a gun player back then. He would carve up any opposition. He could break tackles with his speed and strength,’’ Tedesco said.
“I was so happy for him when he made his NRL debut against Souths and when he scored that winning try against the Cowboys at Leichhardt Oval.
“He might be playing first grade now but he hasn’t changed as a person. He is easy going, laid back and a bit cheeky.”
Nofoaluma said it was a special feeling to make his NRL debut in round 10 with Tedesco at full-back. The pair have always shared a close friendship.
“Teddy has always been the same person. He was a freak of a player in the juniors and was always the fittest player in the team,’’ Nofoaluma said.
“When I scored that last minute try against the Cowboys, James was one of the first players in to congratulate me. It was a good feeling to have him there with me for that moment.”
As for Sue, 20-year-old Tedesco recalled the burly young forward always had the best physique coming through.
“Sauaso is a tough player. He is so fit and strong,’’ Tedesco offered.
“He always had the best body in the team (laughing). I’m so glad that he has been able to play first grade. The one thing about Sauaso is that whether he is playing in the NRL or NSW Cup, he always gives his all. He leaves nothing in the tank.”
Skandalis has nothing but praise for 21-year-old Sue, describing him as the ‘ultimate professional’ despite his young age.
“Sauaso does everything right. He takes nothing for granted and appreciates what everyone does for him from the coaching staff to the administration people at the club,’’ Skandalis said.
“He is a real pleasure to train and will go a long way in the game.”
Skandalis said Nofoaluma was a ‘different character’ to the softly spoken Sue.
“David likes to have a laugh but he knows when to pull back and be serious. That’s a good sign in a young player,’’ he stated.
“He has been a revelation for us and has scored some good tries. David has a bright future if he keeps his head straight and works hard.”
Skandalis said supporters were still to see the best of Tedesco because of injuries.
“Everyone knows what a real talent James is. He just has to be patient and keep looking after himself. This kid has much more to offer,’’ Skandalis added.
“The good thing about James, David and Sauaso is they want to learn and to become better players. They are proud of where they have come from. They know there are young kids looking up to them now.”
Just like they did when Skando was the ‘unofficial mayor of Campbelltown’ back in his playing days.