FORMER Saints centre Willie Talau has spoken of his pride as his son Tommy, a former Blackbrook Royals junior, made his NRL debut this week.

The 19-year-old son of the ex-Saint played for Wests Tigers at Manly on Thursday to make his opening senior appearance.

New Zealand and Samoan international Willie Talau enjoyed a successful career at Saints from 2003 to 2008, scoring two tries in Saints' Challenge Cup final win over Wigan in Cardiff in 2004.

He won four Challenge Cups with Saints and was part of the treble-winning 2006, scoring in the Super League Grand Final of that year side and played in the win against Brisbane Broncos in the 2007 World Club Challenge.

During Willie’s time based in St Helens, son Tommy started learning the sport at Blackbrook Royals, one of the country’s most famous junior clubs.

"I’m really excited for him," Talau said in media reports Down Under, ahead of Tommy's debut.

"He’s definitely got the work ethic. The sky is the limit for him.

"I coached him at SG Ball and Harold Matts at the Bulldogs, as well as the stuff we do around home. Tommy is enthusiastic about his footy and is really easy to teach to be honest, he loves it. He takes on criticism well and tries to improve every week. That’s all you can ask for."

Tommy Talau has represented the Australian Schoolboys and NSW at under-18s State of Origin level.

While normally a halfback, he played at centre for his NRL debut, showing some good touches in a 32-12 defeat at Brookvale.

Willie Talau, who played in the NRL at Canterbury, added: "Tommy is extremely competitive and just loves footy.

"He loves to learn about it, he’s a student of the game, always asking questions. He watches a lot of games on tele and tries to gather as much information as he can.

"Tommy never supported a team when he grew up, he supported players. The Melbourne Storm players, he loved Cooper Cronk because he is a half. (Cameron) Munster and Billy Slater were among his favourites, all the exciting ones."