Nofoaluma growing relationship with Leilua brothers and right side role
Author - Brad Walter
NRL.com Senior Reporter
Timestamp - Wed 1 Jul 2020, 08:01 AM
Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma’s efforts to lure Samoa team-mate Luciano Leilua to the club has ended with him forming a potent right edge partnership with centre Joey Leilua.
Nofoaluma shares second spot on the try-scorers list with Sharks winger Sione Katoa with eight tries in seven matches. He leads the Telstra Premiership for tackle breaks (46), while his five line-breaks are the equal fifth highest.
“Joey is very good at creating one-on-ones for me to score,” Nofoaluma said. “We signed him for that reason.”
Joey Leilua’s move from Canberra was one Nofoaluma welcomed as he has rarely played alongside a genuine centre during his eight seasons with the Tigers.
The 26-year-old envied Leilua’s combination with Jordan Rapana at the Raiders, which was so successful the pair shared the “Lei-pana” nickname.
While Nofoaluma laughed at suggestions he and Leilua had earned the nickname “Lei-luma”, he believed they could achieve great success at the Tigers.
“The club seen something in him and Rapana when he was at the Raiders so it is good that he has come over,” Nofoaluma said.
"I think I have been lacking a really good centre who plays that as their main position.
“I have had a lot of centres who aren’t actually centres so to have a specialist centre playing inside me makes me feel comfortable and as you can see our attack is really good.”
Before Joey became an option, Luciano was the initial target of Tigers coach Michael Maguire.
Nofoaluma spoke to him about joining the club from St George Illawarra while they were in camp for Samoa’s Oceania Cup clash with Fiji at Eden Park last year.
The talented second-rower secured a release from the Dragons to join the Tigers and brother Joey followed soon after.
“I actually had the conversation with Luciano before he came over and BJ [Joey] wasn’t actually in the picture at all then,” Nofoaluma said.
"Luciano spoke to me when we were in Samoa camp and he said ‘what’s it like over there’ so I gave him a bit of a run down and told him what it is like at our club. The things I said to him he liked and I kind of persuaded him to come over.
"I just told him about our culture and how we do things. We are doing things a lot differently than in the past.
“Everyone has a voice and everyone feels a part of the team. He liked to be able to have a voice and be a leader.”
While Luciano was considered a ball playing forward at St George Illawarra, and even filled in at five-eighth on occasions, Maguire felt he could develop his running game.
Luciano wasn’t regarded as a top trainer during his time at the Dragons but the 24-year-old has become fitter this season and he regularly plays 80-minutes.
“We are building something here under Madge that we have always wanted to be,” Nofoaluma said. “We want the Wests Tigers to be a club that is successful so we are working towards that.”