We are all behind Turuva, says Natabe

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Sunia Turuva. Picture: SUPPLIED/PENRITH PANTHERS

Fiji National Rugby League acting CEO Don Natabe has given his best wishes to Sunia Turuva who will feature in the NRL grand final this week.

“Surely we are all behind Turuva in his first NRL Grand Final,” Natabe said.

“It’s a great feat that he was able to get to his first NRL GF after his appearance for Fiji in the Pac Test.

“Many Fijian NRL players like him have risen to stardom after playing for Fiji but very few make their first GF appearance in 6 months from 1st grade debut the way he has.”

Meanwhile, when passionate Penrith fans shout “three peat” to Sunia Turuva on the street, the rookie winger can’t help but have a laugh to himself.

Turuva knows how special it is to be part of a team looking to make it three straight titles for the first time in 40 years, but the 21-year-old reminds himself this is his first opportunity on the main stage and wants to embrace that moment.

“When I see all the fans in the public they’re all yelling out about three-peat, but that’s a bit funny for myself because I wasn’t really part of it,” Turuva told NRL.com

“But even just being part of the squad the last two years, I think that’s been pretty special but now to be part of the 17, I need to remember how special it is that I have an opportunity to get a ring for myself.

“Sometimes I have to pinch myself and remember that I was just aiming to fill in this year and try to get about five, 10 games under my belt during the Origin period.

“But seeing how everything’s gone this year and to playing back-to-back footy, I’m very grateful.”

Preparing for a NSW cup final this time last season, Turuva’s emergence has headlined another great success story to come out of the Panthers’ development program.

When Taylan May went down with an ACL in February, Turuva was handed deputy duties on Penrith’s left edge and the Fiji international hasn’t looked back, scoring 12 tries in 25 games this year.

“After playing pretty much the whole NSW Cup season last year to getting a permanent gig this year and preparing for the main dance, I feel like everything’s just happened so quick,” he said. “I think I’m just grateful we just get to be ourselves here at the academy.

“Even at training, we’re pretty loud, and then come game day on the field when we’re celebrating tries, we’re just having fun out here and I think when I’m enjoying my footy I can perform at my best as well.”

Not only is the Panthers flyer aiming to cap off a stellar breakout season with a premiership ring against the Broncos on Sunday but the Berala Bears junior has also been nominated for the Dally M Rookie of the Year award on Wednesday.

Turuva is one of three nominees for the award, alongside Melbourne’s towering winger Will Warbrick and Wests Tigers fullback Jahream Bula.

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