For­ward think­ing works for Jeremy

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By PET­RICE TARRANT

How badly do you want your dream?

That’s the ques­tion Jeremy Si­ulepa asked him­self af­ter two knee re­con­struc­tions, cracked ribs and a bro­ken an­kle.

The 25- year- old fit­ness in­struc­tor has landed him­self a rugby league con­tract in New­cas­tle, de­spite be­ing ham­mered with in­jury and re­jec­tion in his short rugby league ca­reer.

Si­ulepa trav­els to New­cas­tle to­day where he will be paid to play the game he loves as sec­ond row for the Mait­land Pick­ers.

The Toko­roa-born fa­ther of one will be up against for­mer and fu­ture NRL play­ers with a dream of join­ing that pack.

But for now his goal is to stay in­jury-free.

Get­ting this op­por­tu­nity hasn’t come eas­ily, he said.

Si­ulepa, born in New Zealand of Samoan her­itage, spent a cou­ple of years play­ing in Syd­ney be­fore he in­jured his left knee.

He re­turned to his part­ner and son in Toko­roa and got a job as a sports health and fit­ness tu­tor at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

He said his dream of play­ing league pro­fes­sion­ally had all but gone out the win­dow.

‘‘I al­ways wanted to play good league but af­ter get­ting in­jured a lot I just wanted to pass on my knowl­edge.’’

De­spite the odds stacked against him, Si­ulepa per­se­vered, record­ing his in­spir­ing jour­ney of re­cov­ery – a video that cap­tured the eyes of Mait­land re­cruiters.

‘‘ I think they liked how I bounced back.’’

But in­jury has not been his only hur­dle to suc­cess.

‘‘It has been pretty hard but you’ve got to take you’re op­por­tu­ni­ties and that’s com­ing from some­one who didn’t even get se­lected for Waicoa Bay [Stal­lions] two years in a row then got a start­ing spot, to where I am this year.

‘‘I thought I’d be play­ing club league for the Pa­cific Sharks and now I’m gonna be play­ing against for­mer NRL play­ers.’’

The 104kg for­ward is not hold­ing his breath for a chance at the big league but noth­ing will stop him try­ing.

‘‘When this came up I thought there’s a lit­tle hole and I want to have a peek through and maybe I’ll crack it.’’

Photo: AN­THONY AU-YE­UNG/ PHOTOSPORT.CO.NZ

Look­ing for­ward: From Waicoa Bay Stal­lions to Mait­land Pick­ers, Jeremy Si­ulepa is own­ing his dreams on the rugby league field.

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