Ray Tuaimalo Vaega has been waiting patiently in the wings for his opportunity in the NRL this season.
And come this Sunday against the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium, the 22-year-old 182cm winger will be out to make another immediate impression for Manly after shining in a trial match against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval in February.
After scoring six tries in 11 Jersey Flegg matches for Manly in 2021, Tuaimalo Vaega quickly picked up where he left off, crossing for a hat-trick against the Tigers in Manly’s opening pre-season trial match.
His first try was a spectacular individual performance after catching a midfield bomb to race 35 metres to score.
Tuaimalo Vaega then showed his acrobatic skills when he dived over for two tries in five minutes to cap off a memorable night for the Auckland born athlete.
Ray Vaega lights up Leichhardt Oval
Since then, Tuaimalo Vaega has been one of the real shining lights for Blacktown Workers in the NSW Cup with the 102kg winger crossing for five tries in 14 matches.
Tuaimalo Vaega scored a double against Canberra in round four and was denied a fair try on a dropped ball call after a spectacular leap in the win over North Sydney at 4 Pines Park.
He has impressed enough in the NSW Cup to earn himself a position in the Sea Eagles top 30 squad for 2023 after being on a train and replacement contract this season.
He will become the eighth player to debut for Manly this season and the sixth Sea Eagles player to make his NRL debut in 2022.