As teams in the Queensland bubble continue to do everything they can to make sure a side is put out onto the field every weekend, the Parramatta Eels look to 28-year-old forward Makahesi Makatoa to make it happen and almost make history in the process.
Makatoa, at 28 years and 192 days, will be the third oldest debutant in NRL history when he lines up against the Sea-Eagles this Saturday as the Eels decide to sit Oregon Kaufusi following a concussion the forward experienced this past weekend.
All Run Metres
Makatoa, a bruising forward, ranks behind Eels teammate Andrew Davey, who made his debut in 2020 at the age of 28 and 232 days, and the oldest debutant in NRL history, Darren Nicholls, who made his first start for St George Illawarra at 29 years and 80 days old in 2018.
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According to The Daily Telegraph, the patient 28-year-old's first job was steel fixing in New Plymouth in New Zealand, emulating a story of a journeyman who's so often been on the cusp of making his entrance into the top-grade.
The former New Zealand under-18's representative made his way to Australia five-years-ago when he signed with the Canterbury Bulldogs, hoping to follow in the footsteps of New Zealand great and former Bulldog Sonny Bill Williams.
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After only two seasons with the Dogs, Makatoa signed with the Raiders, however, struggled to puncture the first-grade team due to a heavy crop of talented forwards and as a result decided to join Featherstone in England's second-tier competition in 2019.
That same year he returned to Australia and signed with the Eels, playing in the NSW Cup competition until it was suspended in July of 2021 due to the pandemic.
During his time in the NSW Cup, Makatoa showed out - ranking first in the competition for hit-ups, running metres and post-contact metres. This electric form forced Eels coach Brad Arthur to take notice.
“He absolutely deserves his chance,” Arthur said per News Corp.
“We’re happy that he’ll get his opportunity and that he’ll be able to show us what he’s got in the NRL.’’
As a lifelong dream is made this weekend, Makatoa will be looking to also keep the Eels top-four dreams alive as they take on the sixth place Sea-Eagles.
Look for Makatoa to provide a necessary spark off the bench as he operates as a versatile and mobile forward capable of wrecking a game.