Storm giant breaks silence on exit rumour

Training Storm
Nelson Asofa-Solomona has set the record straight on rumours about his fitness, future and how he wants to repay the Storm. Picture: David Crosling

Storm giant Nelson Asofa-Solomona has opened up on a turbulent few weeks when he was dropped to reserve grade, with rumours swirling that he could be released from the final three years of his contract.

The 28-year-old Kiwis star is one of the most feared players in rugby league, but he only made his season debut on Thursday night against the Roosters following a couple of games in NSW Cup.

Asofa-Solomona explained how he hurt his hamstring three times in a “frustrating” pre-season that led to speculation that he wasn’t fit enough to meet the Storm’s lofty standards.

It prompted the 2m giant to post on Instagram to set the record straight on his fitness.

Training Storm
Nelson Asofa-Solomona’s fitness was a major talking point in the pre-season. Picture: David Crosling

“For me, I just control what I can control. I can’t control what people say on the outside. All I can do is play good footy and let my footy do the talking,” he said after he returned via the bench in the 18-12 win over the Roosters.

“Unfortunately, in this day and age, that sort of stuff sells. As long as the people who care about me and are in my circle know the truth, that’s all that matters.

“I got a lot of messages and I thought I was a bit hard done by because I put in a lot of work in the off-season.

“To then have rumours where my name is thrown through the mud was just wrong, and I wanted to correct it. People close to me knew the truth and they told me to not worry about it, but I had to correct it.”

Teammate Christian Welch has seen his fellow front-rower put in the hard yards at training and has urged Asofa-Solomona’s critics to watch him in action before they comment.

Asofa-Solomona had a big off-season representing New Zealand and dominating in the ring. Picture: Alix Sweeney / Fightr Promotions

“It’s probably a symptom of being down in Melbourne,” Welch said.

“We train on a public oval in the middle of the city so people can come down to watch and see the work that he’s been doing and how he’s moving. If they did then I’m sure they’d form a different opinion.

“The crisis stories must get good ratings, but we’re happy with what he’s doing.”

Asofa-Solomona also hit out at “clickbait” that has seen him linked with an early release from the Storm, but he declared he intended to see out his contract and was grateful after his short stint with the North Sydney Bears.

NRL Preliminary Final - Panthers v Storm
Asofa-Solomona concedes his aggression crossed the line and cost the team at times last year. Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

“I spoke to Craig and he just wants to hold those high standards this year,” he said.

“We had a really in-depth talk … and I have to respect that and do what I’m told because he’s the one who picks the team.

“Sometimes you can take things for granted, and going back to the Bears made me feel grateful for the opportunity I have here.”

Those chats with Bellamy included a tough conversation about his discipline, which has crossed the line at times, with the man mountain hooked early in the preliminary final loss to Penrith and earning a spray from his coach after the game.

“I had a good talk with the coaches, and it’s about applying the energy in the right places for my team,” he said.

“I felt like last year I let my team down just being too aggressive and making silly errors of judgment by trying to get into scuffles. That’s not part of my game anymore and I’m trying to rub it out and do what’s right for the team.”