Wests Tigers director of football and next year's head coach Tim Sheens has thrown his backing behind the NRL's loan system, despite comments from David Nofoaluama which have thrown his return to the club in 2023 up in the air.
Nofoaluam would need a release to break contract from the final two years of his deal at the Wests Tigers, however, the winger, who was struggling for game time at the Tigers before being shipped to Victoria, has revealed he is "loving" his football in Melbourne.
Speaking to 9 News, Nofoaluama said the prospect of finally playing finals football was exciting him.
"You have to be a part of it to actually know what it feels like. It's just something I've never experienced before and I can see why they're such a successful team," he said.
"I think I'd actually cry (at the prospect of playing finals). We play this game to be successful and to play finals.
"I've waited such a long time, 10 years, and to not be able to play finals, let alone a grand final it can wear you down as a player."
While there is no suggestion he would opt to leave the Tigers, and Tim Sheens has stated he expects Nofoaluma back in Tigers' colours next year, the club are in the midst of an awkward balancing act on the player game time front.
Young outside backs Junior Tupou and Junior Pauga, as well as Asu Kepaoa and Starford To'a, will continue to fight for game time with established veterans Nofoaluma and Ken Maumalo next year. That doesn't even take into account the currently off-contract trio of William Kei, James Roberts and young gun Tommy Talau, who has missed the year with an ACL injury.
Labelling the move to Melbourne as a "shot in the arm," Sheens told The Sydney Morning Herald that the loan system has a place in the NRL and needs to stay.
“In England there are loans and dual-registration is very common, and I don’t see any problem with it for the clubs. This goes back to when Melbourne loaned us the young hooker,” Sheens told the publication.
“It does work in England and for us, it suited our needs to give [Nofoaluma] the experience he needed and the shot in the arm he needed. He’s got a two-year contract to come back to us and he was playing reserve grade for us when he left.
“He’s got two more years on his contract.”