Young Tonumaipea signs Titans contract
Former Toa Samoa back Young Tonumaipea signed a train-and-trial contract with the Gold Coast Titans on Tuesday, freshly back from his two-year mission in Germany.
The 27-year-old played 44 games for the Melbourne Storm before taking a sabbatical to serve the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Serving the mission in Germany was an awesome experience and something I am very proud of,” Tonumaipea said to the Titans website.
“It was a very different lifestyle, different culture, but it was an awesome learning experience for me.”
He said he hopes to bring some of those lessons to his return to rugby league, and his grateful to the Titans for giving him a shot:
“I’m looking forward to taking this opportunity with both hands.”
National Rugby League clubs including the Titans resumed training this week ahead of a scheduled competition restart on the 28th of May.
The first thing on Tonumaipea’s agenda is getting his body match-fit again over that quasi-preseason period.
“I hope I’m in good shape,” he laughed.
“Obviously I know what rugby league is and the challenge that comes with it. This is a whole different system probably to the Melbourne Storm but all I can say is I will give it my best and adapt to whatever the coach needs me to do.”
His main goal for the season is getting back to playing regular first-grade matches as soon as possible:
"I am gunning for a spot this year and definitely trying to get into the team this year."
Before signing for the Gold Coast, Tonumaipea opened up on his time abroad to foxsports.com.au.
“I had to learn another language and it was a hard decision to go and leave everything behind but it was honestly something I don’t regret, and something that I’m very proud of,” he said.
“I wanted to be selfless and go out and help other people, I’ve learned so much and gained so many experiences which I wouldn’t have had if I’d stayed living in this comfortable life that we have in Australia. I realise how very blessed and lucky we are to live here.”
The time away from the game also helped Tonumaipea realise how much he loved the sport he had played constantly since the age of 16.
“I’m hungrier than ever to come back to the NRL and make a mark,” he said.
“I’ve been running a lot and I feel fresh. It’s been good to not get bashed in for a couple of pre-seasons.”
The five-time international also revealed a longer term goal – to push his way back into the Toa Samoa squad for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.