Even if Young Tonumaipea never played another NRL game again he would still consider himself a lucky man.
The 27-year-old says his time in Germany completing a Mormon mission helped him put his professional sporting ambitions into perspective.
Fears over his own future were quickly put in their place as he met refugees and migrants who had risked their lives to move to the European nation.
“What I saw was a lot of people fighting to live a good life over there whether they came from the Middle East or Africa,” Tonumaipea said.
“I met a lot of people who travelled a long way through boats that they were unsure were going to get to the other side and just walked miles just to have a better life opportunity, to help their families, to have a good life for their families.
“I thought before my mission that I wasn’t someone to take things for granted, to take an opportunity for granted but I look back and there was definitely some things and some times that I took for granted.”
When Tonumaipea quit the Melbourne Storm to undertake his religious commitments, he had no guarantee he’d ever get back on an NRL field again.
Thrown a career lifeline by Gold Coast, Tonumaipea has impressed Titans coach Justin Holbrook enough to earn a spot on the interchange bench for Sunday’s clash with Wests Tigers.
It will be the Samoan-born back’s first NRL appearance since round 18, 2018 when he admits he was a much different person.
“I’m just super stoked. We live a very good life here in Australia,” he said.
“Very blessed to be able to be here, roof over our head and be protected. Being able to live knowing that you’ll be safe the next day.
“My attitude coming in now to every training session, it’s not like ‘oh I’ve got to come to training now’, it’s, I’m excited for the opportunity.”