Wests Tigers rookie Fonua Pole out to impress coach Tim Sheens after being described as ‘Taumalolo clone’

Described as a “bit of a Jason Taumalolo-like clone”, Fonua Pole will be one of the youngsters looking to make an immediate impression with coach Tim Sheens in Wests Tigers’ first trial match of 2023 on Thursday.

The NRL’s $100,000 prize purse for the winner of the new pre-season challenge will not be enough to tempt coaches to rush back their stars for this weekend’s fixtures.

But fans will still get the chance to watch fringe players, including Pole who played ten NRL games at the back end of last season and has impressed over the summer.

A regular winner of the club’s ‘trainer of the week award’, 20-year-old Pole has spent time in the front row and on an edge, and will play in both positions against the Warriors on Thursday night.

Tigers representative recruit David Klemmer, who will not feature against the Warriors, praised Pole for his athleticism and work rate, comparing him to Cowboys wrecking ball Taumalolo. “He’s just so athletic,” Klemmer said.

Pole, who has already been extended through until the end of 2025, has the chance to nail down the starting No. 13 jersey come round one, especially if Joe Ofahengaue fails to overcome a niggling calf injury.

Fonua Pole is in for a big year with Wests Tigers

Fonua Pole is in for a big year with Wests Tigers

Stefano Utoikamanu, another player who has won over Klemmer, will start up front, while excitement machine Jahream Bula will spend some time off the bench at fullback. Charlie Staines will wear the No.1.

In other trial news, Manly will keep Josh Schuster under wraps against South Sydney on Friday evening on the Central Coast, with Cooper Johns to get some game time along with 19-year-old front-rower Samuela Fainu, a prop with plenty of admirers on the northern beaches.