After forcing his way back into the NRL line-up in Round 10, blockbusting winger Sami Sauiluma has proven that he belongs in the side by leading the metres gained department for three consecutive weeks.
Team mate Jake Foster affectionatlly dubs Sauiluma 'Fat Albert' however it is not his ability to eat cake but rather metres on the field that has had everyone at Raiders HQ talking.
Sauiluma’s devastating kick returns and powerful bursts out of dummy half has seen the Woden Valley Rams junior record the following statistics:
- 133 metres in Round 13
- 143 metres in Round 12 and
- 177 metres in Round 11
In all three of these encounters Sauiluma has accumulated the highest amount of metres for the Raiders.
In fact, in every NRL game that Sauiluma has featured in this year (five in total) he has always been in the top five ranked players for metres gained for Canberra, a truly impressive feat.
Although Sauiluma, who grew up supporting the Raiders as a child, would sacrifice any personal accolades in favour of wins on the board for the Green Machine, he concedes he is pleased with his form of late.
“I’d much rather to be getting wins, but I’ve been fairly happy with how I’ve been going,” Sauiluma said.
“I know I’ve still got a lot of improvement left in my game but I’m proud of those statistics [three consecutive weeks of topping the metres gained] and it’s been good to get some positive feedback from Ricky.
“That’s something that Ricky has been telling me about. He likes me getting into dummy half and running the ball. It takes pressure off the forwards and increases my involvement in the game rather than being stuck out on the wing.”
Sauiluma made his first appearance in the NRL in Round 5 against the Penrith Panthers in a rain-soaked evening at Sportingbet Stadium.
Unfortunately, the powerfully built winger didn’t put his best foot forward in that encounter and did not return to the Raiders NRL line-up until Round 10.
Sauiluma displayed great maturity in not letting the disappointment of getting dropped affect his attitude. Instead of allowing negativity to creep into his state of mind, Sauiluma focused on working hard at training to improve the facets of his game which had let him down in his sole NRL appearance for 2014.
“I wasn’t very happy with my performance in Round 5 against the Panthers,” Sauiluma said. “I really wanted to have a good game because it was my first NRL game under Ricky but defensively I got caught out on that left edge and didn’t get as involved as I would have liked.
“I got put down to NSW Cup and tried hard to work on my game, getting more involved with my running game and trying to minimise my errors.”
Sauliuma’s hard work paid off.
In his four games since being dropped, Sauiluma scored a staggering eight tries in four games for Mounties and rarely made an error.
It is worth noting that Sauiluma’s try scoring rate for Mounties this year in the NSW Cup has been simply phenomenal. In his nine appearances for the year the 23 year old has scored 13 tries.
It was in his last appearance for Mounties that Sauiluma scored four outstanding tries and forced Ricky Stuart’s hand in selecting him on the wing to take on the Panthers, the side he played against previously in Round 5.
“I got my confidence back in those five weeks playing for Mounties and I carried that through to the NRL. There’s still a lot I need to work on but I can always get a boost of confidence by knowing that I’m still the leading try scorer in the NSW Cup,” laughed Sauiluma.