Wests Tigers winger Ken Maumalo has revealed a chat with cousin Nelson Asofa-Solomona almost convinced him to head to the Storm on loan for the rest of the season, but in the end, his young family kept him in Sydney.
Maumalo and teammate Daine Laurie were reportedly some of the players the Storm chased before the August 1 deadline as they looked to bolster their outside backs after long-term injuries to Ryan Papenhuyzen, Reimis Smith and George Jennings.
And while Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma did make the move south, his teammates stayed put.
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“They’re looking for some players at the moment, but I just said that I’ve got a family and it’s too much of a move for me,” Maumalo said.
“’Nofa’ is the perfect person to go over because he’s got no family, no kids, so it’s better for him.
“I got my cousin who called me from Melbourne – Nelson – and he said that Craig (Storm coach Craig Bellamy) mentioned my name to him.
“He said I should keep it on the backburner and just see where things are at. I said if things go well and to plan, then why not, but it was too much of a move.”
Maumalo said the lure of playing football finals and potentially winning a premiership was tempting, but he couldn’t turn his back on the Tigers who are looking to bring back the glory days under Tim Sheens and Benji Marshall.
“It’s a good opportunity to go over and be in a good system and a system that has been good for a number of years now,” he said.
“That was the exciting part of it, but I’m doing this for my family, myself and my teammates here. I’m trying to build this club up again to where it was back in 2005.”
Tigers fullback Daine Laurie was also linked with a move to Melbourne, but the youngster says that may not have been entirely true.
“I didn’t know anything about it. I only saw it in the media,” he said.
“I saw it on Instagram and I was kind of confused about it because I hadn’t heard anything off my manager.
“I would’ve been shy as if I’d gone down there. If that opportunity had come, then I probably would’ve wanted to stay here anyway.”
Maumalo’s focus remains on helping the Tigers finish strongly in 2022, but he does have one eye on the World Cup at the end of the year.
The 28-year-old has represented both New Zealand and Samoa, but says he’s ready to commit to the Kiwis.
New Zealand has lost a number of players, including Jason Taumalolo, to second-tier nations over the past few years, but Maumalo says the team is getting back to its best as they look to dethrone the Kangaroos at the World Cup.
“The Kiwis jersey sort of lost itself around 2016-17 when those players were jumping ship to play for Tonga and Samoa,” he said.
“I was lucky enough to debut in 2018 to help build that jersey with the number of players that were there.
“The jersey is in a good spot now where it should have been for the past couple of years, and now I’m keen to push that jersey and keep building on that jersey.
“There’s so much depth now in the Kiwis squad, so no matter who turns to Tonga or Samoa, we’ve still got a big roster with a number of good Kiwis playing across the NRL and the UK.”