Tino adds power to Falcons for big game against Easts
RUGBY LEAGUE: Sunshine Coast Falcons CEO Chris Flannery says teenager Tino Faasuamaleaui has a prime chance to press his claims for an NRL debut in Saturday's state league showdown between Melbourne Storm's unbeaten feeder teams.
The promising back-rower is among a handful of Storm-contracted players set to play in the curtain raiser to the NRL game involving the Rabbitohs and Warriors at Kawana.
A strong outing for the Falcons against Easts Tigers should help his push for game time on the big stage.
"He's still only fairly young but I would say he'll play NRL at some stage this year," Flannery said. "He can't be too far off."
"If he has a few good games for the Falcons then around Origin there might be an opportunity for him."
Flannery, who played 126 NRL games, believed the 19-year-old was poised to make his mark.
"It wouldn't surprise me if he gets his debut in the next five to six weeks," he said, before suggesting the match against Easts was the "ideal opportunity" to state his case.
"He's going to be playing against the guys who are possibly viewed by Storm as above him in the pecking order so it's the best opportunity he's going to get to stake his claim."
That means trying to out-play the likes of Albert Vete and Kelma Tuilagi, in front Storm coaching staff Ryan Hoffman and Ryan Hinchcliffe.
A product of the Falcons youth system, the 197cm, 107kg Junior Kangaroos representative was with Melbourne as a development player last year.
He played for the Falcons early in 2018 before the Storm switched him to Easts.
Melbourne signed him to their squad proper for this season and aligned him with the Sunshine Coast once again.
"It's good to see him back in Falcons' colours," Flannery said. "He's a powerful ball runner and he's got a bit of an offload."
"He really hits the line and finds his front and gets us on the front foot with some quick play the balls so we're really looking forward to seeing him out there."
The Falcons' line-up should include in-form Harry Grant and Todd Murphy for the 12.40pm game.