From almost overlooked to an incredible NRL rise

From almost overlooked to an incredible NRL rise

Pasami Saulo was 108 kilos before the age of 16.

Now four years later, he'll run onto Mt Smart Stadium to make his NRL debut against the Warriors on Friday night tipping the scales at the same weight but with a much lower skin fold reading and a lot more muscle.

The chubby teen enters the NRL as a powerful and committed young man with a work ethic held in the highest order.

"When he made Harold Matts, he would ride his bike from his house to Morpeth train station," Knights recruitment manager Troy Pezet said.


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"He'd catch the train to the university where we trained, ride his bike to training, train for three hours and then at eight o'clock he'd ride back to the train station, get the train and ride home."

That level of commitment speaks volumes of his character, but his work ethic has never been in question.

He's earned every reward which has come his way.

While Saulo is a special talent, he was almost the one who got away.


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Not because a rival club was set to poach him but because he didn't make the cut for the 25-man Harold Matthews Cup squad.

"At 16s he came in and we pick a big squad and then for the season proper you cut it down to a 25-man squad," Pezet said.

"He went really well in our last trial and our coach said, 'there's something about this kid I really like' and he was an overweight little boy, but he wanted to keep him, so I went and asked if we could take 26.


"He ended up playing every game of Harold Matts. Ended up winning the national title in 2014.

"The next year he played SG Ball a year young before playing SG Ball the following year and made NSW Origin. He and Payne Haas were the front rowers."

Not afraid of hard work, Saulo juggled training with employment at Kmart and later a job with Service Stream where he would read water metres.

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That trimmed the extra weight off him in no time.

"That helped his fitness," Knights wellbeing and education co-ordinator Mathew Morriss said.

"They can walk anywhere between 10-15 kilometres a day reading all their water metres."

Having established himself in the Knights' junior ranks, Saulo ditched the push bike for a car but even that brought challenges his way.

"His car was that unreliable, I used to pick him up for training and games because I remember the first SG Ball game, he missed the bus because his car had broken down," Morriss said.


It was around this time that the prop began to dream of a career in rugby league.

In fact, he was named the Knights' SG Ball player of the year and cleaned up every other award on offer in 2016.

"He realised he could be pretty good at this," Pezet said.

"He did a fair bit with our dietitian and still does now even though he has a partner and a child.


"He made Origin at 18 and that year also made Australian Schoolboys and played two tests against England.

"He went into our 20s squad from there and did pre-season with the NRL squad this year.

"It's an amazing story. He was the kid never picked. He stumbled into the 16s and his work ethic – riding the bike – he's earned his spot."

Saulo becomes the 300th player to pull on a red and blue jersey for the Knights when he makes his NRL debut.