April 20, 2024

‘I got over losing’: Nofoaluma’s swipe as former Tigers star reveals ’tension’ with Benji in exit

David Nofoaluma has broken his silence on his messy divorce with the Wests Tigers after finding a new club in the Super League.

Nofoaluma and the Tigers agreed to part ways last month following a tumultuous start for the veteran under rookie coach Benji Marshall.

The 30-year-old winger reportedly accepted a $300,000 payout for the final two seasons of his Tigers contract and has now signed with the Salford Devils on a 12-month deal.

It marked the end of an era for the Tigers as the club’s greatest try-scorer departing in ugly circumstances.

Nofoaluma played 198 NRL games, including six for the Storm on a loan deal in 2022, and scored exactly 100 tries for the Tigers.

“I think for myself it’s a good move for me to get out Sydney and experience what it’s like over in Europe,” he told News Corp.

“I’m excited about it. I got a taste of a new club when I went down to Melbourne, so I know what it’s like to be in a new environment. It’s a fresh start.”

However, Nofoaluma admitted he was he was “hurt” by the way in which his time at the Tigers ended.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing. It hurts me personally,” Nofoaluma told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“A lot of times, people don’t realise we’re humans before athletes. Instead of dealing with it on a personal level … there’s no need to go to the press (to leak negative stories). I don’t think it’s a nice thing to do.

“It shows what type of club you are. I don’t have to deal with that any more, which is a good thing.”

 

Axed Tigers star David Nofoaluma. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Axed Tigers star David Nofoaluma. Picture: Tim Hunter.Source: News Corp Australia

 

Nofoaluma said he “got over losing” at the Tigers, especially having experienced a new environment while on a loan deal at the Storm in 2022.

Nofoaluma told News Corp: “I was in a similar position last year (2022), I was playing reserve grade for the Magpies and I still remember the phone call from Craig Bellamy. I got named to play for reserve grade in the same week got named to play NRL for the Storm when I did the loan deal.

“Everyone could see how I played down there. I enjoyed the new environment, it was nothing against the Tigers. I just got over losing. It’s a team sport, you can’t do anything individually and no matter how good you are if the team is not performing it affects you as a person. As I got older it affected me.”

He added that the Tigers made clear they didn’t want him back.

“It really started when I stopped being included on members days. I could just sense an aura that they didn’t want me to be there. I didn’t want to go back from Melbourne and that’s where it started,” Nofoaluma said.

“I made it clear to the club that I didn’t want to come back. I know that it was only a loan but I think that played a part in it. When I left for Melbourne, I thought I left for good.”

He added: “They obviously didn’t want me there and I made it clear to them I didn’t want to be there. So, it was best for both of us to part ways.

 

The star winger was widely criticised over an alleged laziness and claims he missed training sessions in pre-season in a bid to seal his exit.

But Nofoaluma hit back, telling News Corp: “There were a lot of outside people saying I was lazy. But you’re not lazy if you’ve played 12 years of NRL… It also takes me a full two weeks to get back to full fitness. Some boys had started training earlier, I got put in with them and I was at the back of the pack when I started back.”

 

Speaking about missed training sessions, he said: “There’s always things going on in the background. Certain actions, maybe I shouldn’t have done it. But it’s just what I felt… I didn’t want to be there because I didn’t feel wanted.”

Nofoaluma emphasised there are no hard feelings between himself and former Tigers teammate Marshall.

“Me and Benji were really close,” he said to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I still remember he reached out to me when he was at the Broncos’ feeder club to see if he could come back to the Tigers, to speak to the hierarchy at the Tigers to help him come back.

“I kind of got him back, because we played in the earlier years and when he came over he set up a lot of my tries in 2020 when I got the Dally M winger of the year and player (of the year) for the Tigers.

“There’s a lot of good things we’ve done together. I understand it’s a business and, for me, I do have a lot of respect for him.

“Even though things happened the way they did, at the end of the day, he is a coach who needs to make decisions and I respect that a lot.”

But, he told News Corp: “There was a bit of tension this year between me and him… Looking back, I think he made me an example for all the other players because I’ve been there for such a long time.”

Nofoaluma admitted he’d had a tough final few years at the club but that overall he still cherished his memories from Concord.

“I was the longest-serving player in the team whilst I was there,” he said.

“As much as things didn’t go well and they wanted me out of there, it doesn’t take away from the time I’ve been there.

 

“The last year or two, there were times where I struggled a bit, trying to pull things together in terms of playing. A lot of the Tigers fans still appreciate me and love me because they still remember all the good things I’ve done for them.

“These days, rugby league is a business. If I was to give advice to any young athlete, don’t take loyalty (as an expectation).”

“Once I left Tigers originally to Melbourne, I felt I had left there. As you can see, it brought my footy back to life.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming back, it was sad to come back. Once I left, I felt my time with the Tigers was done.

“Then I eventually came back and it wasn’t the same. When I left the first time, I felt like I left for good.

“I actually didn’t want to come back. With contracts and loan deals, you are obligated to them. I came back and you know how the season went, the team won the wooden spoon.”

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