Justin Olam has opened up about his embarrassing gaffe on Thursday night after being left red-faced in the NRL season-opener.
The Melbourne Storm centre’s brain explosion 15 minutes into the second half gifted South Sydney excellent field position and the Bunnies made the most of it as Latrell Mitchell barged over in the corner for a try before Adam Reynolds converted to reduce the gap to six points.
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Olam thought he’d spilt the ball after receiving a pass from Cameron Munster 20m out from Melbourne’s tryline, but he didn’t realise the referee had ruled it a knock back and called play on. Instead of playing the ball, he rolled it away in disgust and started walking over to his position in the defensive line.
Only then did he realise that was the moment he gave away possession — not seconds earlier, as he initially thought.
The mistake — and Mitchell’s try — didn’t cost the Storm as the hosts secured a 26-18 win, but the moment may not have been so funny had the result gone differently.
“I thought I lost the ball because I dropped it (and knocked on),” Olam told foxsports.com.au.
“Everyone around me was so quiet, that’s why I put my head down because I wasn’t feeling good about myself.
“I turned the ball over because I thought it was a Rabbitohs ball in the heat of the game.
“Everyone sort of thought that I got knocked out (while being tackled), but it’s going to take more than that to knock me out.
“Munster and them (his Storm teammates), they were off me a little bit. It was a little bit embarrassing to be honest, I feel like I let the team down.
“If it was a common mistake I would have got over it and moved on, but we conceded a try the next set. (Storm coach Craig Bellamy]) didn’t say anything to me yet but I’m pretty sure he’ll say something on Monday.
“It’s an honest play, I should’ve played to the whistle.”