Former Melbourne Storm winger Young Tonumaipea has made a return to his first NRL club, having last donned the purple in 2018.
Tonumaipea made his NRL debut with the club in 2014, going on to play 43 games before exiting the NRL in 2018. He did so with the club's blessing to complete a two-year overseas religious mission.
He then returned to the NRL in 2020 with the Gold Coast Titans on a train and trial deal, which would see him play ten games during the back half of the season.
He then left rugby league again, signing with the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby during 2021, where he would make six appearances in the 15-man game.
His train and trial deal moving back to the Storm could see him a chance of first-grade football this year, with Reimis Smith currently out injured. An unwillingness to blood young gun Jack Howarth has seen development player Marion Seve move into the team, however, a string of indifferent performances could see Tonumaipea in with a chance of cracking Bellamy's starting side.
Born in Samoa, Tonumaipea moved to Melbourne at a young age and was in Melbourne's development system at the Northern Thunder before originally being signed by the Storm.
Part of the club's SG Ball team in 2009, and their under-20s outfit in 2011 and 2012, he was voted the clubs NYC player of the year in 2012, before playing for the Sharks in the 2013 NSW Cup - a team which at the time served as a feeder for both the Sharks and Storm.
Making his debut in Round 1 of the 2014 season, Tonumaipea never found a consistent spot in first-grade, however, scored 12 tries in 32 games during his time with the Storm, before adding three tries in ten games during his time at the Titans.
Tonumaipea said he believed he wouldn't play for Melbourne again when he left the club.
“When I left Melbourne midway through 2018, I thought that would probably be the last time I’d be wearing purple,” he said.
“It’s funny how the world works sometimes. It’s done a full circle.
“I’m buzzing and ready to go.”
He will also undoubtedly be using his time at the Storm as a possible springboard into the Rugby League World Cup for Samoa at the end of the year, with the tournament to be held in England.
General manager of football at the Storm Frank Ponissi said it was also hoped he would return.
“Young was a very popular and respected member of the Storm squad during his previous time with the club," Ponissi said.
“I think we all hoped, especially considering he’s a junior from the northern suburbs of Melbourne, that at some stage he would rejoin us.
“After his stint in rugby, Young was very keen to return to rugby league and Storm and, at 29, he still has a lot of good footy to come.
“I know there’s going to be many members and fans who will be very happy to see him back in purple.”
The club have confirmed that he will turn out for QLD Cup outfit the Sunshine Coast Falcons in the coming weeks.