Second team no more: Nofoaluma wants hard edge to remain
Author - Alicia Newton
Timestamp - Tue 7 Jul 2020, 02:56 PM
They may not have won last weekend, but Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma says the side’s added aggression over the past month is exactly what had been missing.
The aftermath of the fiery clash between Nofoaluma’s Wests Tigers and the Panthers continued on Tuesday at the squad’s first training session since their seven-point defeat.
Suspended centre Joey Leilua, who attracted the headlines over his high shot on Dylan Edwards, trained opposite his teammates with the reserves throughout the session.
The illegal play - which resulted in a four-week suspension - aside, Nofoaluma said the Tigers being labelled a team anything other than cleanskins was new territory in his seven seasons at the club.
“I’m not the type of player to get emotional over a battle but if no one is talking about you after the game then you must’ve been boring,” Nofoaluma told NRL.com.
"I look at the Panthers game as a bit of a rivalry now which can only be a good thing and something we’ve probably needed. We’re looking forward to the next time we play them already and that’s the hunger want to maintain.
"We’ve always seemed to be everyone’s second team, maybe not for Panthers fans at the moment, but across the game people often say to me that we’re their second team.
"It’s nice to hear that but I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we’re turning a little corner and changing opinions because we’re climbing the ladder.
“People become envious of anyone that starts becoming successful. When you’re at the bottom people tend to feel sorry for you and we don’t want that.”
Nofoaluma is likely to suffer most from Leilua’s ban as their right edge combination was flourishing.
The Samoan international sits alongside Maika Sivo and Cronulla’s Sione Katoa on eight tries in 2020 – one try behind overall leader Kyle Feldt.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been this high ever so I’m keeping my eye on that,” Nofoaluma said.
"It’s something I’d love to achieve – to be top try scorer at the end of the year. It would be a nice acknowledgment.
"BJ [Leilua] has benefited my game a lot, he’s assisted me in some tries and that’s been great. I know it won’t be the same this Friday but with the standard we have at training whoever fills in will do the job.
“It doesn’t change my mentality of going out and putting in a good performance.”
Wests Tigers skipper Moses Mbye dismissed suggestions Leilua’s act on Edwards was an example of the former Raider not fitting into the squad’s standards under Michael Maguire.
“In terms of buying into what we’re pushing I don’t think that’s a problem for him,” Mbye said on Tuesday.
"Joey’s been really good, he’s come into the club under Madge who’s got a strong work ethic and Joey wasn’t famous for that.
"He’s proved his worth in that arena and I thought he’s displayed that in patches this season.
"I think with Joey it’s about letting him play his brand of footy. For him, it’s about focusing on his consistency.
“It might be a good period for Joey to work on his body and get extremely fit.”