Like most rugby league players, Isaac Lumelume has plenty he wants to achieve in the game.
However, while some people may find motivation in sharing their goals, Lumelume prefers to play his cards close to his chest.
But in a special moment, the Melbourne Storm flyer was able to share with his team mates that his personal goal was to earn an NRL jersey to honour his mother, something he was able to achieve in Round 16 this year against Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
“This jersey is for my mum up in heaven,” Lumelume told the squad in a moment captured by the Melbourne Storm cameras.
“I made a promise to myself that I would get that jersey for her.
“And now, I have finally done it.”
From a young child who had initially hidden his weekend games from a worried mother, to dedicating his greatest career achievement to date to her, it was touching to witness.
Since becoming the sixth player to debut for the Storm this year, with fellow Berala Bears junior and Easts Tigers via Central Queensland Capras team mate Aaron Pene set to become number seven this weekend, Lumelume has played in one more game, against Souths Sydney Rabbitohs.
He has been named on the wing for their final round match against St George Illawarra this weekend and has found the whole NRL experience to be an exciting challenge, especially after being unable to play regular rugby league this year with the Intrust Super Cup competition called off.
“My debut, it was good. I didn’t find out until the start of the week (that I would play), (but) they prepared me well for it,” Lumelume said.
“I told my friends, but I told them not to post anything on social media and I told my family, and told them the same as well.
“The game was fast, it was really tough, but it was good.
“My first involvement was, they kicked it to my side and they kicked it too deep, so I caught it in-goal and it was a 20 metre restart and I just thought ‘nah, I am not going to pass it, I will just run it myself and get it out of the way’, so I just tucked the ball in and ran; and once I got that out of the way I was pretty sweet, was pretty confident with where I was at, so that was good.
“Lucky we put on a few points early, so I wasn’t blowing that much, but in the back end of the game I thought ‘far out, I am dying’ it was fast as, but it was good.”
Lumelume’s family and friends were not there in person to see him in action in his first game, with his partner and two young children - who he was thankful were able to join him in the Storm's quarantine hub - unfortunately unable to attend the game together; but he was able to assemble a cheer squad for his second match.
“I have played two games (and) the second game was a bit easier, because I kind of knew how the game went, just after having that first game,” Lumelume said.
“It was way better because it was in Sydney and I got my family down; my family is from Sydney and they all came for the game; so, it was good to play in front of them.
“They are pretty loud, so they were screaming so I could hear them.”
Before his debut, Lumelume was presented with his jersey by fellow Fiji representative Suliasi Vunivalu, with countryman Tui Kamikamica watching on.
The trio all played together last year as part of the Fiji Bati side that proved triumphant in their two Pacific Test matches against Lebanon and Samoa.
“It was an emotional experience because I always wanted to play for my country and to finally be able to do it in front of my family and all my friends, was pretty cool,” Lumelume said of his time with the Fiji side.
“Both of my parents are Fijian, they were born in Fiji, they came over about 20 years ago, a while back now.
“I have been to Fiji, but I haven’t been back to (their) islands.
“Our first game was against Lebanon, and that was pretty cool.
“It was pretty tough, when you are out there, you feel like to want to smash them; smash your opponent, but it was good, two tough games and we got the two wins.
“It’s amazing to have Suli and Tui (here at the Storm with me), I have always wanted to play against or with them; (and) I got the opportunity to play with them in the Tests.”
Selection in the Bati side was one of a number of milestones Lumelume achieved in season 2019, a year which saw him move from New South Wales to join with Easts Tigers in the Intrust Super Cup where he played 10 games and sign with Storm.
“I haven’t really looked back at it (season 2019); but it went pretty quick,” Lumelume said.
“I was playing Ron Massey Cup (for a bit) last year as well, which is just below reserve grade and then I got a call up for Fiji and I wasn’t expecting that; and while I was in camp with Fiji and my manager called up to say; ‘how would you to like to sign up with the Storm?’ and I was like ‘far out’ and then I took it and it’s just been a blessing from them.”
While Lumelume has only been up in the sunshine state for the past two seasons, the former Bass Hill high school and Cronulla Sharks junior player would be a familiar to Queensland fans after playing in underage New South Wales representative teams in the past.
“It was a while back now, it was good … playing in the NSW under 20 side in 2017,” Lumelume said.
“I think there’s a photo of me somewhere running at Crofty (former Storm half Brodie Croft).
“I played in the Under 18 Origin before that (alongside current Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen).
“It was heaps different to be in a rep camp, you obviously play against them each week, and then you join up with them for NSW; so it was just trying to get to know everyone and play with them on the weekend.”
Isaac Lumelume - Always electric
Looking to the future, the goals Lumelume is willing share are to be expected, to – “obviously stay fit and try to get a game in if I can and just get ready for next year” – and perhaps if things go well next season, another call up for Fiji in the Rugby League World Cup.
“If everything goes well and I play good footy; hopefully, I get selected in the squad, but that’s more down the track,” Lumelume said.
“I have (goals) in the back of my head, but I like to keep it to myself.”
QRL 2019 to NRL 2020
- 2019 – Lumelume joined with Easts Tigers mid-way through the season after signing for Melbourne Storm, played in 10 Intrust Super Cup games where he scored three tries.
- 2020 – The Fijian flyer played in the first round of the Cup for the Tigers in their win over Central Queensland Capras before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19. Lumelume made his NRL debut with the Storm in Round 16 and has played two games this year. He has been named on the wing for this weekend’s final round match against St George Illawarra Dragons.
- 2019 – The winner of the second rower of the year award, Lewis played 24 games for Sunshine Coast Falcons in 2019, scoring nine tries and kicking one goal.
- 2020 – Lewis made his NRL debut in Round 4 against South Sydney Rabbitohs and has so far this season played four games. He has been named in the second row for this weekend’s match against the Dragons.
- 2019 – The former New Zealand Warrior prop played 10 games for Easts Tigers last season, scoring five tries. He also played one NRL game with the Storm during the season.
- 2020 – Vete played six games for the Storm so far this season, notching his 50th game in the NRL in the process. Vete has been named on the bench for this weekend’s Round 20 game.
- 2019 – The Tigers back played in seven Cup games and scored two tries. Seve made his NRL debut in Round 2 and scored four tries for the Storm in 12 games.
- 2020 – Injury unfortunately struck in Round 16 as the Samoa representative was finding form in the Storm backline. Seve played seven NRL games with Storm this year.
- 2019 – Earl featured in 14 Cup games for the Sunshine Coast Falcons last season and also played in seven NRL games with Melbourne.
- 2020 – The winger played in the opening round Cup game with the Falcons and has so far played one game for the Storm, but will add to his tally this weekend.
- 2019 – Hynes played 21 Cup games for the Falcons, playing well at fullback and five-eighth where he produced 21 try assists and scored six tries of his own. Hynes made his NRL debut in Round 21 against South Sydney Rabbitohs.
- 2020 – Hynes started the season with the Falcons and has also played in eight games for the Storm this year with his utility value paying dividends off the bench. He has also filled in at fullback and has scored two tries.
- 2019 – Eisenhuth played eight games with Easts Tigers last year, moving across from the Falcons a season prior. He played four games for the Storm and attracted media interest after enduring a six-year wait to play his second NRL game after making his debut in 2012 with Penrith Panthers.
- 2020 – Eisenhuth has played in 12 NRL games and scored one try.
- 2019 – Jacks played seven Cup games with Gold Coast Titans feeder club Tweed Seagulls in 2019 and also ran out 13 times for the Titans.
- 2020 – The Canada representative returned to the Storm fold this year and played in the Round 1 Cup match for the Tigers. Previously with the Falcons, this year, Jacks has played in eight NRL games for Storm and crossed for one try.
- 2019 – Featuring in 19 Cup games for the Falcons, Johns scored one try and helped set up 19 others during the season.
- 2020 – Johns made his NRL debut in Round 15 and has been named to play his second this weekend at halfback.
- 2019 – The Fiji Bati representative played in two Cup games for the Falcons and 21 matches for the Storm where he charged over for two tries.
- 2020 – It has been an injury-hampered season for Kamikamica, who has so far played in four games for the Storm, scoring one try.
- 2019 – King played in eight Cup games for Easts Tigers; and split his NRL games where he played nine for the Titans at the start of the year and six with Melbourne where he scored one try in the later stages of the season.
- 2020 – So far this year, King has featured in five NRL games for the Storm.
- 2019 – Signed with the Titans during season 2019, Lee played in nine games for Burleigh Bears and six for the Titans.
- 2020 – Lee joined Easts Tigers in the 2020 pre-season; but was quickly picked up by the Storm and this year has played in 11 games after making his club debut in Round 4. He has scored three tries.
- 2019 – Papenhuyzen had a huge 2019. Starting the year with the Falcons, he played four games of Cup before making his NRL debut in Round 4. The electric fullback played 22 games and scored tries for Storm.
- 2020 – Great form has continued in 2020 for Papenhuyzen who has played in 16 NRL games, where he was scored seven tries, made 10 try assists, and produced 3067 run metres. In a huge honour, he has been named to captain the Storm side this weekend.
- 2019 – It was a strong 2019 season for the PNG Kumuls representative who played in 10 Cup games with the Falcons. Olam featured in 14 NRL games for Melbourne, crossing for seven tries.
- 2020 – So far this season, Olam has played in 18 games for Storm, scoring nine tries and making an average 115 run metres per game.
- 2019 – Good form in his 21 Cup games for the Falcons saw the Cooktown junior earn selection in the XXXX Queensland Residents team.
- 2020 – It was an eventful NRL debut for Schonig in Round 9 this year, with the forward finding out he was about to play during the team warm-up. He has since played five games for Melbourne and will play again this weekend.
- 2019 – The powerful forward played 14 Cup games for the Falcons in 2019, scoring two tries. He made his NRL debut Round 16 and played five games for the Storm.
- 2020 – This has been a breakout season for the Gympie junior who has played 19 NRL games. He has been a big key to success for the Storm this year, and has scored seven tries this season so far, with a number coming thanks to his good running off Cameron Smith close to the try line.
- 2019 – It was a huge season for the Easts Tigers junior, who played 16 NRL games for the Storm and made his Queensland Maroons State of Origin debut.
- 2020 – Welch made his return from injury with Easts Tigers in Round 1 of the Cup season. The prop has since played 15 games for Storm.