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Tonumaipea returns from rugby to Storm

Young Tonumaipea’s career has come full circle with the winger landing back at the Melbourne Storm.

The 29-year-old had his first training with the Storm on Wednesday having switched from playing with their AAMI Park neighbours, the Melbourne Rebels, in the Super Rugby Pacific competition.

Victorian-born Tonumaipea played five seasons and 43 games with the Storm between 2014 and 2018 before taking a two-year sabbatical to complete a Mormon mission.

He returned to the NRL to play 10 games with the Gold Coast in 2020.

He joined the Rebels in 2021 and played two seasons, scoring the match-winning try in their 2022 season finale against the Highlanders.

With the Rebels season ending last month he said he contacted Storm coach Craig Bellamy to see if they needed any extra bodies.

Able to play wing or in the centres, he has been offered a train and trial contract.

“When I left Melbourne midway through 2018, I thought that was the last time I’d be wearing purple,” Tonumaipea said.

“It’s funny how the world works sometimes – it’s done a full circle and I’m back where it started.”

Tonumaipea said given the Rebels campaign had just ended he was in good shape to push for another NRL recall.

“I’m buzzing, ready to go, and keen to finish the year off with the lads here.

“It’s good to be back amongst some of the boys that I grew up with.”

Tonumaipea said he wasn’t sure whether his future lay in the NRL or rugby.

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