New Melbourne Rebels’ centre, Young Tonumaipea, says “there’s no place like home” after officially kicking off his Rebels career last month.
Tonumaipea joined the Rebels following six seasons in the NRL, where the twenty-eight-year-old went on to make 53 appearances after debuting in 2014, playing for AAMI Park neighbours, the Melbourne Storm (2014 – 2018) and the Gold Coast Titans (2020).
Tonumaipea says he’s thrilled to be back in Victoria.
“It’s been really good to be back home and back in familiar surroundings,” said Tonumaipea.
“At the moment it’s really a lot of learning and me trying to learn this new game, but I’m really enjoying my time with the Rebels at the moment.”
Though just twenty-one days into his new rugby life, Young has quickly engaged with the playing group, particularly his new backline teammates.
“Obviously, I do a lot of work with the backs, so Pincus has bee really good and helpful, so I’m trying to learn a lot of him. Lewie (Holland) has been good too.
“There’s a lot of them – they’re all really friendly and encouraging.
“Dave has been awesome and always speaks to me and helps me out on attack, while Fooety (Kevin Foote) has helped me out with the way we defend here with the Melbourne Rebels.
“It’s been really good though – I already know a fair few of the boys with Pone and a few others who are coming back from the Wallabies, so I’ll hopefully get to see them soon.”
While Tonumaipea acknowledges the transition from league to union will bring about its challenges, the Victoria Thunderbolts prodigy says he’s excited to follow in the footsteps of his former Melbourne Storm teammate, Marika Koroibete, who since switching in 2017, has gone on to become one of game’s brightest stars.
“It’s obviously a different game but it’s a challenge I’m willing to take on and I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out over this next year.
“There’s a lot of competition but that’s good – it helps us push hard and play to the best of our ability.
“What I can bring to the team is my energy – obviously I like to bring a lot of energy and play fast, so hopefully I can enter that into the game of union.
“It’s preseason, so there’s a lot of running but all I can do is just learn at the moment.”