Nelson Asofa-Solomona says weekly sprays from Craig Bellamy have helped him drop five kilos in the past year as he prepares to pack a lot of punch in plenty of minutes in the finals.
The 24-year-old prop will take the field against the Eels on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium in a qualifying final as a 130kg wrecking ball.
His two-metre frame and size 16 shoes add to his imposing physical presence and make him a feared opponent.
The 2017 premiership-winner has one fear, and that’s his coach.
Solomona’s frame has filled out since making his first grade debut as a 19-year-old.
He once tried a vegan diet but was putting fattening sauces on the food and ended up gaining weight, which resulted in a stern word from Bellamy.
“I think everyone has copped a spray off Bellyache and mine has always been about my weight,” Asofa-Solomona grinned.
“I cop that every week because I put on about two or three kilos after the game, then I strip it back off. He always has a word with me and makes sure I am staying on track.
Storm v Eels – Qualifying final
“It is just my Samoan genes. I breathe and I put on weight. I think a lot of players like to have some treats after a game … and I have everything.
“Around this time last year I was 135 kilos. Right now I am 130 so I am a big step ahead of where I was last year.”
Is that the weight Bellamy is happy with though?
“Probably a bit lower but I am happy at 130 or 129, or around that,” he chuckled.
Asofa-Solomona was chilled, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of Mike Tyson when he spoke to the media prior to the finals at the Storm’s Sunshine Coast base.
As for a heavyweight boxing career in the future he mused that may happen “one day”.
Asofa-Solomona will provide plenty of punch on Saturday night as he prepares to continue playing bigger minutes.
“When I play finals footy I go to another level. That is my mindset when I get to this stage of the season,” he said.
“It just comes with experience. I know when to flick the switch.
“I knew that at some stage I’d start playing bigger minutes. It just goes with playing for such a long time. You know when to use energy and when to conserve energy.”
Asofa-Solomona grew up in New Zealand embedded in the rugby system.
“I wanted to play rugby union my whole life. The All Blacks was always my dream as it is for a lot of Kiwi kids,” he said.
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“I was in Wellington where there is not much rugby league. As you get older dreams change, so here I am.
“I had both contracts in front of me. To stay in rugby union or go to rugby league. Rugby league saw me when I was 14 and I wanted to repay the loyalty with the Storm.
“I think [Wellington Hurricanes] were interested [a few years ago] but I didn’t have direct contact with them because I don’t really have a manager. I have a lawyer that looks after me,” he grinned.
“They didn’t know who to go through to contact me. Some of them talk to me through my Instagram.”
The Kiwi international used to have trouble getting boots to fit but that’s all sorted now.
“I am size 16 and Asics do size 16s. We all have enough money to buy our own boots, so I buy them myself. If they hear this, they might sponsor me.”