Form wingers Nofoaluma, Mansour to collide
Thu 18 Aug, 2016, 7:00am
By Jack Brady , National Correspondent , NRL.com
Wests Tigers star David Nofoaluma isn’t getting caught up in the hype over being one of the form wingers in the competition currently.
He can’t afford to.
The 22-year-old’s NRL career has so far been riddled with injuries.
A season-ending ACL injury brought his 2014 campaign to a premature close, while a serious ankle injury delayed his return to rugby league for months the year after.
“These past few years, I haven’t had many games under my belt. This year I’ve only missed one game so far. As the season progresses, I get a lot of confidence each game I play,” Nofoaluma said.
“It’s been good to improve each week and even in training, because I can participate in every session with the boys. Being able to build that combination with ‘Kevvy’ (centre Kevin Naiqama) inside of me and Mitch [Moses], it’s going really well.”
Nofoaluma has played a career-high 20 games this season and will face the benchmark for New South Wales wingers on Friday night in Penrith’s Josh Mansour.
The two form wide men are already familiar acquaintances.
Nofoaluma’s Tigers had the wood over the Panthers back in Round 17 with a 34-26 victory.
The duo also made their City Origin debuts in Tamworth together back in May.
Nofoaluma has recorded one more try (14 tries) than Mansour in 2016 and nine extra tackle breaks (117), but the value in the New South Wales Origin winger Mansour lies in his yardage in possession where he is averaging 173.8 metres per game.
“It’s always a good challenge when you come up against Origin players or representative players. It makes you push that extra bit harder to be the best player you can be against those kind of players,” Nofoaluma said.
“It’s always good to be at that type of level but for myself I just want to improve and become even better,” he added.
“I have that opportunity now because everything is going so well. Along with my teammates, it’s been fantastic. We have all been in high spirits and hopefully it pushes me up the ranks further in my position.”
The Tigers sit one competition point outside the top eight on the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder and need to win every one of their remaining games to keep their finals hopes alive.
“It’s obviously going to be tough especially with where we sit on the ladder,” Nofoaluma said.
“Coming up against Penrith with the form they have shown, they’re going well so we’ll have to come out with our best game.”