Coach Trent Robinson has handed a 28-year-old garbage man his NRL debut in a bid to stop Sydney Roosters’ season turning to rubbish.
At 28 years, nine months and 28 days, Eloni Vunakece will be one of the oldest players to make his first-grade debut when he takes the field at Allianz Stadium against Manly on Saturday night.
The Fijian international works full-time as a garbage collector, balancing training in between working early mornings and evenings.
With the Roosters sitting bottom of the ladder after three rounds and hit hard by injury and suspension, Robinson has called upon Vunakece to dig them out of trouble.
Vunakece’s fellow Roosters prop Dylan Napa is expecting him to make a big impact.
“You won’t miss him,” Napa told AAP.
“He is a pretty large fellow and he has a pretty large afro to go with it.
“It is pretty crazy when you think about it, he goes to work as a garbo, gets up at quarter to four and goes to work then comes to training at nine, does his own warm up and slots right in. Then he will go to his night shift and do the same.”
Napa said Vunakece deserved his chance to create history as one of the NRL’s oldest rookies.
He is the fifth Rooster that Robinson has handed a debut to this season.
“He is a front-rower and he is a big tough Fijian and we are going to be relying on him and we trust him and we wish him all the best,” Napa said.
“I don’t think anyone would have deserved his debut more than him.”
Vunakece comes onto the Roosters bench for the round-four clash with Manly following a leg injury to Ian Henderson.
Brendan Elliot comes into the centres to replace Dale Copley, who suffered a pectoral injury.