‘The biggest shock of my career’: Nofoaluma didn’t see axing coming
By Adrian Proszenko
10 March 2018 — 4:36pm
David Nofoaluma’s sacking came as a shock to all. Not least the man himself.
“Definitely. It was one of the biggest shocks of my career so far,” Nofoaluma said after running out for Wests Magpies against Canterbury, instead of playing for the Tigers against the Roosters.
“I respect Ivan’s [coach Ivan Cleary’s] decision and he thinks the side playing today is the best line-up. I respect that decision, I just went out there to play my footy.”
When the 16 clubs named their sides for the opening round of the competition, Nofoaluma’s demotion to reserve grade was the biggest shock. Wests Tigers fans and fantasy football afficianados went into meltdown after arguably the club’s best player of 2017 was dumped to reserve grade.
The unheralded Corey Thompson, back after a two-year stint in the Super League, instead got the nod for the season opener against the Roosters.
“It was a bit different,” Nofoaluma said. “Obviously I’m used to playing first grade. It’s a bit slower and a totally different feel to first grade.”
Asked if Cleary had outlined the reasons for the demotion, the Samoan international said: “Not anything specific. He didn’t tell me much, what the problem was or what I’ve done wrong. It was a pretty quick convo, it was a shock to me. I just wanted to come out today and let my footy do the talking.”
That he did. Nofoaluma scored two tries in the Magpies’ 32-10 win against Canterbury. Whether it is enough for a recall remains to be seen.
“I feel like I was doing things right,” Nofoaluma said of his first pre-season under Cleary.
“But in saying that, for me coming out today, even the whole week leading up to this game, it makes you feel like you’ve got to perform at your best to be at the top with the best. Hopefully I did my job today and performed well and hopefully I get the call-up next week.”
Nofoaluma was the first big name to re-sign with the club after the debacle that was the ‘big four’ contract negotiations. He knocked back an approach from Parramatta to commit for a further four years.
“Pre-season’s always a tough time of the year. Ivan’s, this off-season was really tough. A lot of boys trained really hard and I suppose some players stuck out better than others and that’s what got them here today in round one. Good on them and all the best to them today.”