Faifai Loa ready top fight for spot - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Faifai Loa ready top fight for spot

29/03/2011 02:17:55 PM Comments (0)

North Queensland winger Kalifa Faifai Loa accepts he has a huge battle on his hands to keep a starting spot despite an eye-catching first-up display for his new NRL club.

With refreshing candour, the 21-year-old - who played two games for St George Illawarra in 2010 - admitted surprise that he was able to provide the play of Monday night's 34-6 win over Melbourne.

New Zealand-born Faifai Loa surged through Storm captain Cameron Smith's attempted tackle on a determined kick return and timed his pass perfectly to send Matt Bowen away for a sizzling 90 metre try.

"I haven't broken the line in ages so I was pretty shocked myself and then knowing Matty Bowen was next to me," he said.

"When he scored that try I was just happy as."

But with star recruit Antonio Winterstein due to return from a jaw injury sustained in the pre-season, and Michael Bani also knocking on the door for a return to the left edge, Faifai Loa said he won't be taking his spot for granted.

"Antonio will be back soon and we've got other wingers, so anyone can come in and just take each other's spot," said Faifai Loa.

"Watching last week they didn't really go very well and the coaching staff gave me the opportunity to play this one game.

"You never know what will happen, hopefully (I'll keep my spot)."

Impressed co-captain Johnathan Thurston said the powerful rookie could well retain the wing berth with more performances like the one he produced against the Storm.

"He's a special talent and it's another big learning curve for him as well, coming up against the Storm and that'll be great for his confidence," said Thurston.

"But he's just got to keep preparing the best he can and putting in performances like that and he'll keep his spot."

Cowboys coach Neil Henry said Faifai Loa had proven himself up to NRL standard.

"Kalifa, he's a confidence sort of guy, quite outspoken, and he backs himself to do things and he turned up tonight (Monday) and did a couple of good things," said Henry.

Faifai Loa wasn't the only new boy to impress with hooker James Segeyaro also making an immediate impact.

Relieving Aaron Payne at dummy-half, Segeyaro combined well with halves Thurston and Ray Thompson as the Cowboys took the game away from the visitors.

"It's proven there's a bit of depth in the squad there," Henry said of the impressive start from the two rookies.

"Antonio Winterstein will be back soon, Scott Bolton as well and we've got some players some good football in the Queensland Cup."

The Cowboys have a short turn around to Saturday's away match against struggling Parramatta.

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