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'Lover not a fighter': Storm's Nelson to end nasty tag

George Clarke -

Nelson Asofa-Solomona wants to be known as a "lover not a fighter" after the prop reiterated his commitment to Melbourne following an off-season dominated by concerns over his weight and Storm future. 

Asofa-Solomona had a solid and controlled first outing of 2024 in Storm colours on Thursday, emerging unscathed from their 18-12 win away to the Sydney Roosters.

The return has been a long time coming for the New Zealander after his off-season was derailed by a hamstring issue which forced him to spend time in reserve grade with the North Sydney Bears

The continual setbacks led to conjecture over the hulking forward's fitness and if he even wanted to see out the remainder of his current Storm contract, which runs until the end of 2027.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy moved to reassure Asofa-Solomona of his place in the club's plans, while the Kiwi Test star even took to social media posting photos of his physique. 

"It is what it is, I can control what I can control, I can't control what people say on the outside," Asofa-Solomona said. 

"In this day and age that sort of stuff sells. 

"As long as the people who care about me know the truth, that's all that matters.

"I got a lot of messages, I thought I was hard done by and to have rumours thrown around like that, my name to be thrown in the mud, it's just wrong.

'I wanted to correct it, people close to me know the truth and tell me, 'don't listen to the noise'." 

Talk of Asofa-Solomona quitting the Storm also did the rounds but the 28-year-old was adamant he would not be leaving the club ahead of schedule. 

"I want to see out my contract," he said. "I guess that's media for you … that's what gets you clicks, at the end of the day my loved ones know."

Bellamy said he was pleased with Asofa-Solomona's impact from the interchange after switching the prop out of his starting side an hour before kick-off.

It meant that Asofa-Solomona had little chance to rekindle his rivalry with Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. 

But the Storm prop says his days of overstepping the mark are long gone.

In last year's preliminary final against Penrith, Asofa-Solomona saw red and the Panthers punished him and his Storm teammates. 

After a sit-down with Bellamy over the summer, he knows he has to rein in his tendency to overstep the mark.

"It's about applying energy in the right places, I felt last year I was letting my team down by being too aggressive," Asofa-Solomona said.

"I was silly, errors of judgement, getting into scuffles and that - it's not part of my game.

"I'm a lover not a fighter - but when we cross that line it's business, but me and Jared we're friends off the field." 

George Clarke - AAP


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