Five tries may not be enough for Ikuvalu

Matt Ikuvalu of the Roosters scores a try during the Round 9 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Sydney Roosters at QLD Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, Thursday, July 9, 2020. (AAP Image/Cameron Laird) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Matt Ikuvalu of the Roosters scores a try during the Round 9 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Sydney Roosters at QLD Country Bank Stadium in Townsville (AAP Image/Cameron Laird) 

He is the first Sydney Rooster to score five tries in a match in 65 years.

Yet it may not be enough to save replacement winger Matt Ikuvalu from the NRL axe.

But Ikuvalu reckons he is just happy to have finally tasted NRL again after adding another chapter to his remarkable tale.

By rights, Ikuvalu shouldn't have been playing against North Queensland in Thursday night's NRL clash in Townsville.

However, just 20 minutes before kickoff he got the nod after veteran winger Brett Morris suffered a groin niggle in the warm-up.

By the 64th minute, Ikuvalu had become the first Rooster to bag five tries in a match since Brian Allsop in 1955 as the two-time defending champions romped home 42-16.

He had scored four tries in his previous 15 games since his 2018 debut.

"Every time I warm up I have to be 100 per cent just in case something happens - I came in with a good mindset," Ikuvalu said of his call-up.

However, Ikuvalu may not play again any time soon if Morris overcomes his niggle.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson admitted it would be a tough call after Ikuvalu answered their SOS and impressed in just his third game of 2020 and first since March.

"He deserves real credit for preparation," he said.

"You see (James) Tedesco and the Morris twins and all that but then there is a group of (reserves) guys who are fighting tooth and nail to perform.

"They just get to train really hard and they may not play this year (with no reserve grade) or get the call up 20 minutes before kickoff to perform and then you have to deliver for your club.

"He (Ikuvalu) is a great story."

Indeed he is.

Ikuvalu gave up rugby league in 2016 due to niggling injuries and decided to study education at university.

But by late 2017 he was training with the Tri-Colours after impressing with Roosters feeder club Wyong Roos after deciding to juggle his studies and play on weekends "for fun".

He still had a day job as a shoe salesman on NSW's Central Coast when he was asked to make his NRL debut at 24 in round 13 in 2018.

Now off-contract, Ikuvalu, 26, said he still dreamed of becoming a teacher and was happy to simply enjoy any NRL game that came his way.

"I'm still doing the teaching (degree), nearly finished that," he said.

"It's always a blessing just to get a game with these boys. It's still a bit surreal to be able to play with such a great team."

Meanwhile, the Roosters will monitor Morris and hooker Jake Friend (head knock) ahead of next week's clash with Canberra.

© AAP 2020