Storm’s Asofa-Solomona battles back from blow to ego

Melissa Woods |

Nelson Asofa-Solomona (c) is eager to put his troubled patch at the Melbourne Storm behind him.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona (c) is eager to put his troubled patch at the Melbourne Storm behind him.

Giant Melbourne prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona feels he’s getting back to his best after some early season turmoil left him shaken at the Storm.

The 28-year-old is part of the Melbourne outfit looking to rebound from their loss to ladder-leaders Cronulla when they take on Parramatta on Sunday during Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium.

Asofa-Solomona said the Storm had identified their discipline and defence as areas to improve as they tackle an Eels outfit also coming off a defeat.

The 28-year-old will start from the bench, as he’s done in the past four matches since breaking back into the top side in round seven.

The New Zealand international admitted being forced to work his back through reserve grade after pre-season hamstring injuries was a tough pill to swallow.

“I understood why I was going back but it definitely was a bit of a blow to the ego,” Asofa-Solomona told AAP.

“Obviously it was frustrating as I know what I can offer to a team so it was definitely a blow to the confidence, but I always try to look for the good in the bad so I went back and did my time.

“Body-wise I’m back to 100 per cent … I feel like I’ve definitely got a lot more to offer.”

Having to bide his time in the NSW Cup led to rumours Asofa-Solomona was on the outer with the Melbourne hierarchy, although he signed a four-year deal last season.

He said he felt vulnerable despite being reassured by club chairman Matt Tripp.

“He (Tripp) called me up straight away and shut it down, but I was still playing reserve grade so I wasn’t too sure about what was going on there.

“My mum and family were asking what was going on and it’s always challenging when it affects your family.”

While he conceded he was too aggressive last year, leading to penalty trouble, Asofa-Solomona said he needed to play to his strengths. 

“I’ve been playing pretty conservative the last few weeks trying to build that trust and confidence within the team, but I feel like that’s not my game,” he said.

He said the Sharks showed the way in their 25-18 victory, making inroads through the middle and he hoped to do some damage himself against the Eels.

“We can take a leaf out of their book and let our big boys run the ball a bit more,” the 189-game veteran said.

“I’m sure Parramatta will be looking at that game and taking something from the Sharks too.”