St Paul's College's Jirah Momoisea lands contract with Melbourne Storm
Jirah Thomas Momoisea is looking forward to joining the Melbourne Storm next month.
The 18-year-old St Paul's College student has signed a one year contract with the NRL club's under-20 squad.
Momoisea is obviously excited, shocked at most because nine months ago he hadn't even considered playing rugby league professionally.
"I only began playing rugby league nicely at the beginning of this year for the school team," Momoisea says.
"My background is in union, I play a lot of rugby."
The former lock and flanker has captained his school's 1st XV rugby team, risen up through the Auckland development teams and attended the Auckland Blues trials this year.
But he really started turning heads on the league field at prop.
A scout from the Storm watched five of Momoisea's rugby league games and spoke to his mother Penina to consider an opportunity with them.
"I was surprised, shocked even that I got an offer from an NRL club.
"I love union but I would consider taking up any opportunity if it meant I could play sports professionally."
Momoisea leaves behind his mum, younger brother Rocky and grandparents at Mangere Bridge when he flies to Australia on November 28.
"I definitely want to make an impression. I hope that after one year, I've stamped my mark in the squad and can extend my stay.
"I'll work hard. I come from a single-parent family and I saw how hard my mum and grandparents worked to get me and Rocky to where we are.
"I'm doing this for them, I will give it everything I've got and will work hard to make them proud. I only hope that I can give back to them what they have given to me," Momoisea says.
Other St Paul's College students that have joined NRL clubs this year are AJ Murray with the Warriors and Star Toa with the Newcastle Knights.
The college has produced several sports stars, including NRL's Stacey Jones, Jerome Ropati and former All Black Bernie Fraser.
St Paul's College rugby league coach Dave McDermott says Momoisea is lucky to score a contract with the Storm.
"They're very astute and selective with their recruitment which is a compliment to Jirah," McDermott says.
Melbourne Storm is the home of the Kiwis captain Jesse Bromwich and Australian captain Cameron Smith.
Kiwis Tohu Harris, Kevin Proctor and Kenny Bromwich are also in the side.
"The Storm have a history of producing excellent players, hence being the benchmark NRL team and an awesome opportunity for Jirah," McDermott says.