This was written in 04 Danners
Tongan muscles in on Storm
By Karl deKroo
Source: Herald Sun
Ed: 1 Pg: 073
12 Feb 04
IT DIDN'T take long for Matt "The Ox" Orford to realise he had met his match.
For the past few seasons Orford, the diminutive but deceptively powerful Melbourne halfback, has worn the tag of the Storm's strongest man.
At just 78kg, Orford could outmuscle most of his teammates. His bench-press record stood at an impressive 150kg.
It took Sione Finefeuiaki just two lifts to rearrange the pecking order.
Storm's new forward signing has "officially" benched 200kg, but teammates have no doubt the big man is foxing. They believe he will begin to be tested only at 220kg.
"I don't know where my strength comes from. It has always been there," a grinning Finefeuiaki said yesterday.
"Maybe it is all the good islander food."
Finefeuiaki is an exciting prospect.
Born in Tonga, the 23-year-old started his rugby league career only four years ago.
Formerly a weekend rugby union player, he was talked into playing rugby league by his cousin in Auckland.
Finefeuiaki was signed by the Sydney Roosters after just one season in New Zealand.
"Back then I was about 105kg and the Roosters signed me as a winger," Finefeuiaki said.
"It was my second season in rugby league and I didn't really understand the game."
A knee injury halted Finefeuiaki's progress, and he was sent home to Auckland to recover.
When he returned to the football field, he had bulked up to 114kg and was shifted to the forwards.
It was there that he was spied by Storm scouts, who offered the youngster an opportunity to return to Australia to pursue his NRL dream.
"It was like a second chance for me," Finefeuiaki said.
"It has been a great off-season, and I am feeling really good.
"They are a great bunch of blokes here and they train very hard. I can't wait to play with them."
Finefeuiaki's stint with Storm has not been without its share of drama.
Before Christmas he was forced to return to New Zealand for a month while an issue with his Australian visa was resolved.
It put Finefeuiaki a bit behind some of his rivals for a spot in Storm's top squad, but he has worked hard to make up for lost time.
"I'm here because I want to play in the first-grade team," Finefeuiaki said.
"I want to show what I can do."
Finefeuiaki will get his first opportunity on Saturday night when he lines up for Storm against Queensland Cup side Tweed Heads in Noosa.
Signed to an incentive based contract, Storm officials are confident that Finefeuiaki has what it takes to make it in the NRL.
"Sione certainly has that 'wow' factor," Storm executive director John Ribot said.
"He is still a bit rough around the edges, but he is keen and he is the kind of guy worth investing some time in."