Cronulla Sharks and Queensland Under 20 flyer Ronaldo Mulitalo is ready to follow in the footsteps of cousin and Gold Coast Titans outside back Phillip Sami.
Sami, also a former Ipswich junior, has previously represented Queensland Under 20s, and enjoyed a breakout season with the Titans in 2018 which saw him rewarded with a call up to the 2019 Queensland Maroons emerging squad.
“I’ve watched my cousin Phillip Sami enjoy success at NRL level, and with the Queensland Under 20s and emerging program,” Mulitalo said.
“I want to be able to follow in his footsteps and replicate what he has been able to achieve.”
The 19-year-old was recruited by the Sharks from an early age, after moving over to Queensland from New Zealand with his family at age 14.
“I lived and played footy in Ipswich, which provided me with a stepping stone into rugby league,” Mulitalo said.
“I was recruited by the Sharks at around age 15.
“I was coming through the grades in Ipswich playing school boys and I was selected for my first Queensland squad – Queensland White Under 15s.
“I guess from that moment on, I got my first taste of what it means to play for Queensland and wear that jersey and it led to something bigger.
“Since then, I’ve always had the desire to wear that maroon jersey and represent the great state of Queensland."
Mulitalo is one of the more experienced players in the Queensland Under 20 side, having already made his NRL debut for the Sharks in Round 7 this year.
The 95kg flyer was promoted to Cronulla’s top 30 squad back in April, and made his debut against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium the following day.
It was a shock NRL debut for the Ipswich junior who was a late inclusion for Cronulla after centre Josh Dugan was injured in the warm up.
“It was a crazy story, I’d finished warming up and was getting ready to go back into the change rooms,” Mulitalo said.
“The boys were lined up ready to run out and sing the national anthem, when the coach (John Morris) tapped me on the shoulder and said 'mate you’re playing, go and put your gear back on'.
“It was so last minute, my family had no idea I was even playing."
Despite having played just the one NRL game, Mulitalo is hoping he can call on his experience for the Queensland Under 20 side on Wednesday night.
“I think the experience of NRL tested my character and I’ve learnt a lot about myself in the past few months,” Mulitalo said.
“The small things like preparation, presence of mind and focus on the day of the game.
“This team and this jersey mean everything to me. I want to make my family and my state proud. Every time I pull on this jersey I know I have a job to do."
Mulitalo will line up at fullback for Queensland at ANZ Stadium on July 10, in the curtain raiser to the State of Origin decider.
Queensland will be looking to register their first back-to-back victories in the Under 20 representative games, following last years 30-10 victory over New South Wales at Suncorp Stadium.
Match: NSW U20s v QLD U20s
Round 1 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
A livestream broadcast of the game will be available on QRL.com.au and Queensland Rugby League Facebook page.