Destined for the wooden spoon, the Wests Tigers sat Nofoaluma in NSW Cup at points last season while the likes of Ken Maumalo, Junior Tupou, Brent Naden and more rotating through the flanks, and leaving Nofoaluma to go through the motions.
Debuting the same season as Luke Brooks back in 2013, Nofoaluma's frustration over not playing finals football had the 29 year-old losing his love for the game he'd devoted his life too.
“It was one of the best things in my career,” Nofoaluma told NCA NewsWire.
“After 10 years of not being able to play finals, it kind of felt like a promotion to be able to do that with such a quality side like Melbourne.
“I've got so much respect for everyone at that organisation, and I think they helped me out more than I helped them. They reminded me how much I love this game from the second I got there.
“When you're younger, you're buzzing because you get the chance to do something you've dreamed about since you were a kid. Once you establish yourself in your career, you then want to enjoy some success.
“So for me not being able to play finals, that took a huge toll on me and affected me mentally."
The Wests Tigers have a virtually rebuilt roster heading into the 2023 season, recruiting the likes of Apisai Koroisau, John Bateman, Isaiah Papali'i, Charlie Staines and David Klemmer, however Nofoaluma admits it was still hard to leave Melbourne despite knowing the talent he was returning to.
“It was definitely hard for me to leave that place. I was happy when I was there, and I think anyone would say the same thing because you play your best when you're happy,” he said.
“When you've got an environment that lives and breathes footy, it makes it tough to say goodbye. If anything goes wrong now, I just think of my time down there and remember why I fell in love with this game.”
Despite rediscovering his love for the sport during his time down south, the winger knows how much this team means to its fans, and wants to replicate that same success with Leichhardt Oval the backdrop.
“I've seen how big this fan base is,” he said.
“This club is so fortunate to have such loyal fans who have been with us for 11 years without finals. If there's going to be a year that we turn it around, then this is the one we do it. I've been here for quite some time now, and it feels different this year.”