Olam flying high after deluge of love from northern homeland


Justin Olam looks uncomfortable when his airborne try against the Raiders in the preliminary final comes up in conversation.

The Storm star is not the kind of player who seeks the limelight, let aloneg the highlight reel, and points out that the only reason he had to take off in last week's game was to clear a player on the ground, not to add flourish to the finish.

It looked spectacular enough without the embellishment. With Nick Cotric making the error in his in-goal area and the Storm already on an early roll, Olam saw the ball pop up and leapt over teammate Ryan Papenhuyzen, who had put in the initial kick.

He instinctively launched himself at the ball, pulling it to his chest and soaring horizontally until he came crashing to the turf for the try. It put the Storm up 24-0 after as many minutes and snuffed out Canberra's hopes of a second straight decider.

Olam's sheepishness at the mention of it is part of why he's become a beloved part of the Storm. Teammates marvel at his humility off the field, but his willingness to turn himself into a human cannonball on it.

More than anything, Olam can feel the love, not just from those in the Storm bubble, but also from his homeland of Papua New Guinea. Should Melbourne win on Sunday – and should Olam take flight again – the roar will be heard all the way to Homebush.

Justin Olam celebrates a try against Canberra.

Justin Olam celebrates a try against Canberra.Credit:Getty

"I love the love," Olam said. "It's constant from my family and friends and that's all I need. But the support has been amazing."

Those in the Storm set-up have no trouble declaring Olam one of the better centres in the game. A premiership would cap off his incredible rise from the highlands of PNG to the biggest stage the NRL can provide.


He began playing at 18 and has become a coach's dream, with Olam taking advice and instructions from Craig Bellamy and carrying them out to the letter.

"The good thing about him is he lets you play your game and whenever he needs to step in, he will pull up and tell me what needs to be done," Olam said. "You know what he expects, which is to play your game and do your part."

Olam feels right at home on the Sunshine Coast, where played Intrust Super Cup for the Falcons before progressing to the NRL. To be able to prepare for a grand final in relative solitude has been a blessing in disguise and helped ensure the nerves are kept at bay as long as possible.

"That's the good thing ... it's pretty quiet," Olam said. "My mindset is to treat it like just another game and I'll try my best to do that. We've always been tight and the bubble has made us even closer. That's the great thing."

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