Sixteen-year-old sensation signs record-breaking NRL contract

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josie andrews
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Sixteen-year-old sensation signs record-breaking NRL contract

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Latu Fainu has just signed a contract that could result in him becoming the highest paid player still to reach NRL level.

Just months after celebrating his 16th birthday, Fainu has inked a mammoth four-year deal with Manly. If he hits the performance targets in his contract extension, the teen pivot will earn a seven-figure amount during that period.

Moses Suli made history as the game’s highest-paid teen when he signed a three-year, $1.3 million contract extension in 2017 with Wests Tigers at the age of 18. The Sun-Herald can reveal Fainu will outstrip that figure if he triggers a series of bonus benchmarks once the deal kicks in next season.

Rival clubs – including Parramatta, the Warriors and the Dolphins – were lining up with their chequebooks in a bid to prise Fainu from the northern beaches. However, the opportunity to secure his financial future and potentially play first-grade alongside his three brothers – including suspended Manly hooker Manase Fainu – proved impossible to turn down.

In a further boost to the club, older brother Samuela Fainu – a 17-year-old forward – also extended his contract until the end of 2024. Sione Fainu, a promising 20-year-old prop, is on the club’s books as well.

“It’s a dream come true,” Latu said. “It’s great to be able to stay here with my brothers. Hopefully we get the chance to all play in the NRL together. That would mean a lot to the family.”

Good judges believe Fainu has the talent to make it to the very top after the five-eighth was named the player of the series in the Harold Matthews Cup. The achievement is all the more impressive given he was the standout in the under-17s competition – he had a hand in four of his side’s five tries in the grand final win against Parramatta – when he was still aged 15.

Latu recently agreed to become an Adidas ambassador, and is believed to be the youngest Australian athlete to do so.

When asked what he planned to do with the windfall coming his way, Latu said: “I want to buy my mum a house. To be able to do that would be a dream come true. That’s what I want to do.”

Told about Latu’s intentions, his mother Lile – who has eight children – became tearful.

We are just humbled they think of us,” Lile said. “Most kids now take off and live their own life. These kids always remember home and we’re just grateful and humbled they think of us.

“We’ve had to go through a lot to make ends meet when they were growing up. While growing up it was just their father [Chris] working and we were living on one income. They knew the drill; they would ask me for some money and we would have no money, it was ‘Wait until payday’.

“They knew why we had no things, why there was no money to buy a loaf of bread. The struggle is real and they understand it. I think that’s what made them push more to excel in their careers.

“My husband and I have felt it in each of them. They looked at how we’ve struggled, so they try to work hard to make their lives more comfortable. I don’t need to be rich, I just want them to enjoy their life.”


Latu is one of the game’s brightest stars and there was a lot of interest in him, but he couldn’t be happier to secure his future at the Sea Eagles,” said Mario Tartak of Crown Sports, the manager who also brokered the Suli deal. “Good judges believe he has the potential to become an absolute superstar.

“All four of the boys feel at home at Manly and, hopefully, they will fulfil their dream of playing in the NRL together.”

The new deal will further shine the spotlight on Latu, but big brother Manase doesn’t think he’s the best footballer in the family.

“I back Sammy [Samuela],” he said. “He’s a big boy; I’d back him to be the best of all of us. He grew up playing at half, he’s got all the skills in the world and he’s got the size, too.”

The family is hopeful it can emulate the feats of the Burgess brothers – Rabbitohs Sam, Tom, Luke and George – who were the last quartet of siblings to take the field at the same time in 2013.

“That would be something very special,” Fainu said.

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/nrl/sixtee ... 598mq.html
Anyone can support a team when it is winning, that takes no courage.
But to stand behind a team, to defend a team when it is down and really needs you,
that takes a lot of courage.
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