They have achieved success in becoming not only three mainstays in the Leicester Tigers side throughout the current season but also fan favourites of the Tigers Family and, after Sunday’s win over Wasps at Welford Road, the trio of Nick Malouf, Matt Toomua and Sione Kalamafoni reached another milestone.
All three were presented with their 20-game club ties, with summer-signings Malouf and Kalamafoni making their 20th appearances in the win over Worcester in the first week of March and Toomua his in the Round 18 clash with Wasps.
After debuting in October 2016, injury saw the Australian international make just two appearances in his first season for the club, which he acknowledges was longer than first planned.
“It look a little longer than I certainly would have liked but I am extremely proud to reach 20 appearances for a club like Leicester Tigers and I am hopeful of making many, many more in seasons to come,” Toomua said.
A breakthrough 2017/18 season for the former Wallaby has seen him strike up exciting partnerships with both George Ford and Manu Tuilagi, making 18 appearances in both Premiership and European Rugby fixtures, which he says he’s enjoyed building.
“It’s a fantastic place and a great group of guys, as well as a brilliant set of supporters, who have all made me feel very welcome and I hope to continue to contribute to for a long time,” he said.
I am extremely proud to reach 20 appearances for a club like Leicester Tigers and I am hopeful of making many, many more in seasons to comeMatt Toomua
Malouf, who made the move to Leicester after globe-trotting with the Australian Sevens side for the past two years, was thrust in to the spotlight to the surprise of many in Round 1 of the campaign and hasn’t looked back.
A former back-rower in the 15-man game, who’s Sevens experience meant he was signed as an outside-back by Matt O’Connor, the hard-working Aussie has quickly become a favourite among Welford Road supporters.
When asked about being presented his tie, a humbled Malouf was quick to admit it had come much quicker than ever expected.
“It’s a great honour to reach the mark for a club like Leicester Tigers,” he said, before adding, “when I joined the club at the start of the season, I never thought it would come up this quickly.” “It’s a really nice accolade.”
Kalamafoni, who has made 21 appearances since joining from Gloucester, has started in every game he has featured in so far this season and currently sits equal with Malouf and club-captain Tom Youngs atop the list for most games played in the current campaign.
Arguably one of the Premiership’s hardest working forwards, Kalamafoni says his achievements so far are due to the support of many in his life - including his Tigers team mates. “It’s a big thing for me,” Kalamafoni said after receiving his tie in front of team mates.
“Especially in a first season at such a big club, one of the biggest clubs in rugby. It’s huge to achieve something like that, it’s truly immense.”
"It’s huge to achieve something like that, it’s truly immense.”Sione Kalamafoni
“I give it to the lord above and the opportunity and talent he has given me, as well as my family who have supported me throughout the whole experience.
“In addition, I have to thank the boys. They’ve been a huge help for me, especially in moving here, and helping to push me forward.”