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Tolu Koula enjoying rapid rise into Sea Eagles squad

From the classroom to the field, Tolutau Koula is quickly adjusting to life in the Sea Eagles NRL squad.

After completing his HSC at Newington College last year and following some impressive performances in Manly’s junior representative grades, Koula has been fast-tracked into the Sea Eagles top 30 squad for 2021.

It is a remarkable step up for the 18-year-old full-back/centre who has been rated as one of the best young attacking players seen in either rugby league or rugby union at school and representative level in recent years.

A player with tremendous speed, Koula played full-back for Manly in the Club’s 2018 Harold Matthews premiership winning team. He also played SG Ball for Manly in 2019 and 2020.

A quietly spoken young man, Koula says coming through the successful Sea Eagles Pathways Program has stood him in good stead as he undertakes his first pre-season with the NRL squad.

“The pathways program gives you a sense of belonging and the tightness amongst the playing groups at Manly,’’ Koula said.

“You know that if you work hard, there are some rewards there for you.”

Koula said he couldn’t believe the opportunity that presented itself when he told his parents of his elevation into the full-time NRL squad.

“My parents were pretty proud when I told them but this is just the beginning and there is plenty of hard work ahead of me,’’ Koula said.

“The senior players here at Manly like Daly Cherry-Evans, Kieran Foran, and Jake and Tom Trbojevic always have a lot of good advice to offer you.

“To be surrounded by such amazing NRL players who have done a lot in the game and to learn off them is pretty special.

“It’s also been great to be able to get advice from experienced players like Jorge Taufua and Moses Suli who play in the backline to see how they go about things at training. All of the players have been very supportive.”

And as for his speed, Koula said it was just part of his development. He broke the AAGPS Athletics Carnival Open Championship 100m record in a time of 10.58s at Sydney Olympic Park in 2019.

“I have done athletics since I was pretty young,’’ Koula said.

“My speed has been something I have worked on at training and it has certainly helped me. I’m just learning so much every day and am just soaking it all up.”