Rookie South Sydney centre Kirisome Auva’a believes working day in day out with Melbourne’s superstars has given him the perfect preparation for life in the NRL.
Auva’a debuted in the Rabbitohs side that beat Penrith 18-2 last Friday night and he made an instant impression by scoring the opening try of the game.
Souths coach Michael Maguire chose Auva’a over the experienced Beau Champion after Joel Reddy was ruled out through injury.
And the Samoa-born 22-year-old showed enough to suggest he’s here to stay and will line up against Canterbury on Good Friday.
“I was on cloud nine because we won the game and I scored on my NRL debut,” Auva’a told AAP.
“I was a bit nervous when it went up to the video ref, but I knew I’d scored, but you always have that doubt in your mind.”
Auva’a has taken a circuitous route to reach the NRL, growing up in Auckland after his family moved from Samoa, then going to school at the prestigious Ipswich Grammar in Queensland.
“It was good school and some really good league and rugby players have come out of it,” he said.
“Lagi Setu, Lami Tasi, Martin Kennedy went there so did Berrick Barnes and Albert Anae, who plays for the Queensland Reds.
“After I finished my schooling I went down to Melbourne where I had four brilliant years and really learned what being a professional footy player was about.”
Despite revelling in the ultra-professional set-up that’s made the Storm one of the great clubs of modern times under Craig Bellamy, Auva’a knew he had to leave if he was to get a chance in the NRL.
“I played in the Cronulla NSW Cup side that won the grand final last year and that was an awesome experience,” he said.
“But it was really hard to crack the NRL team there, they have so many great players.
“But when you work day in and day out with Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Cam Smith and Ryan Hoffman you can’t help but learn.
“They way they go about things and talk to the young players you pick up so much.
“One of the reasons they are so good is because of hard work.
“It didn’t happen down there, but I’ve bided my time and hopefully it can at Souths. It’s up to me now.”