The dominant performance by barnstorming second-rower Haumole Olakau’atu against the Warriors on Saturday night came as little surprise to his Sea Eagles team-mates.
The 23-year-old 113kg forward ran for 210 metres from 17 carries, scored a try through sheer strength alone, and finished with nine line breaks at 4 Pines Park in one of his finest games for the Sea Eagles.
And with 39 NRL matches behind him now, Olakau’atu is again pushing strongly for a back-row position for the NSW Blues.
“I think he has been pretty consistent over the course of the year for them to be talking about his name in Origin circles,’’ said Manly Coach Des Hasler.
“There are three games in Origin so you never know.”
Manly prop Josh Aloiai said he was ‘very thankful’ to have Olakau’atu as a team-mate, rather than an opponent.
“Haumole is aggressive, he runs the ball hard and he tackles hard,’’ Aloiai said.
“He has a pretty simple focus and he is a nightmare for whatever side he comes up against.
“I know how hard he is to tackle him at training. He is quite unorthodox.
In my opinion, Haumole is the hardest player to tackle in the NRLJosh Aloiai on Haumole Olakau'atu
Olakau'atu brutally swats away Harris-Tavita
“He has to be really close for game two (for NSW). Haumole just has to keep playing the way he is playing and rep footy would be a well-deserved reward for him.”
Acting captain Jake Trbojevic couldn’t help but smile when reflecting on Olakau’atu’s efforts against the Warriors.
“Over 210 metres in 59 minutes…it’s pretty impressive,’’ Trbojevic stated.
“He was a beast. Haumole led the go forward and gave us a lot of momentum. He’s just getting better and stronger every week.”
Post Match: Haumole Olakau'atu
Hooker Lachlan Croker said Olakau’atu had impressed many with his natural development since making his NRL debut in late 2019.
Olakau’atu was signed by Manly in 2016 after just one trial match before going on to play a major role in the Sea Eagles winning the Holden Cup premiership in 2017.
“The way Haumole is playing now, we have seen him train like that for the best part of three or four years,’’ Croker said.
“I think the most impressive thing is that Haumole has grown up as a leader here amongst the Islander boys. He is one of those guys you love playing with.”