Manly wing fulfils NRL promise to late mum

·3-min read

Rookie Manly winger Alfred Smalley began the week a furniture removalist and ended it fulfilling a five-year promise to his late mother that he would play NRL.

One of the feel-good stories of Manly's long week, Smalley summed up the silver lining of the Sea Eagles' gutsy 20-10 loss to the Sydney Roosters without their seven boycotting players.

Take fellow debutant Zac Fulton, who forced a dropout under the grandstand named after his late grandfather Bob and looked every bit like he was made for first grade.

Or Pio Seci, the 28-year-old winger who became the first player to graduate out of the Fiji Silktails program and into the NRL.

Then there is Smalley, who on Monday was moving furniture and is now an NRL try-scorer.

As shocked and confused as anyone when he got the call on Monday night, Smalley's main interaction with the team before that had been in mimicking rivals in weekly opposed sessions.

'It didn't hit me when I found out on Monday," Smalley said.

"When I got (to the ground on Thursday night) that's when everything started to soak in. I ran out and I lost my breath, I couldn't breathe. It was so hectic.

"It's just crazy, unreal, pretty much a dream come through, I can't believe it.

"I'm still shocked to be honest."

Smalley moved from New Zealand to south-west Sydney in 2017 to live with his aunt and play under-20s at Manly.

But less than a year into his move his mother Mary-Lisa died of a heart attack.

"I was 17," Smalley said.

"I'd just moved out of home and moved over here to play 20s and got the news that my mum passed away.

"I made a promise to my mum when I lost her in 2017 that I would still stay here and try to crack the NRL.

"And I'm so happy I've fulfilled that promise."

He and his siblings have since been raised by older sister Aieshaleigh, herself a former Kiwi Ferns and Warriors NRLW prop.

His late try came right in front of her and other family, after she was the first person he called on getting the news.

"She pretty much raised me and my siblings," Smalley said.

"To have them here, you dream of these things as a kid. I am so happy it came true.

"My family stayed back in New Zealand (in 2017), but they flew over my sister, brother and nephew (on Wednesday)."

By night's end Smalley's boss had already messaged him half-joking asking if he would be good to resume moving furniture off a truck on Friday morning.

That will likely wait for next week with the winger facing a one-game ban for a high shot on his first touch in the NRL.

After that he wants more first grade, desperate to become a regular first-grader in honour of his mother.

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