Four years ago, Pasami Saulo was a “fat kid” who was the last player chosen for the Knights’ Harold Matthews Under 16’s squad.
But just two years later, he played Australian Schoolboys and NSW Under 18’s and on Friday night, will make his NRL debut for the Knights against the Warriors in Auckland only a little over a week after turning 20.
He will be the Knights’ 300th debutant.
“It’s a great story and I’m really happy for him.” Knights recruitment manager Troy Pezet said.
“He won’t mind me saying he was a fat kid when he first started with us. I think he is around 107 kgs now but that is about what he weighed when he was 16 and he was a fair bit shorter back then.
“He was the last player we chose for the Harold Matts the year the team went on to win the national championships in 2014.
“So, to see him shoot up and develop like he has is pretty special.”
Knights coach Nathan Brown intimated late last week he was on the verge of giving Saulo his debut before the end of the season but fast-tracked the decision after the loss to Wests Tigers.
Josh King, who has been struggling for form in recent weeks and getting little game time, has been dumped to make way for Saulo.
“Pasami’s been going really well in NSW Cup over the past month or so and was really good again in a strong win over the second-placed Mounties the other day,” Brown said.
“He deserves his shot. It’s a fair test for him going to Auckland to take on the big Warriors pack but I’m sure he will give a good account of himself.
“He’s a big boy who has worked really hard and he’s someone we think can have a big future.”
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Despite his age, Saulo is already the father of a one year old boy and his partner is expecting their second child.
“He’s a great dad and very family orientated and he has done really well to juggle everything that’s been going on in his life,”Pezet said.
“He’s worked hard with our dietitian Rachel [Svenson] as well which has really paid off for him.”
The inclusion of Saulo was the only change to the squad of 17 that took on the Tigers with injured co-captain Mitchell Pearce named at halfback and appearing almost certain to play.
The squad will travel to Auckland today to prepare for the clash.