Isa­iah dreams big

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

After many knock backs Isa­iah Cooper-Tete­vano, 19, has come back fight­ing, be­ing se­lected for the Un­der 20 War­riors and New Zealand Maori Squad.

The Toko­roa man was of­fered a two-year con­tract for the War­riors team but only after a third at­tempt. He said his fail­ures did not bring him down, they only fu­elled his de­sires more.

‘‘. . . the fact I didn’t make it, it just made me want it more.’’

All of the ex­tra weight train­ing and 5am starts paid off for the 95kg cen­tre and sec­ond rower.

‘‘I had to put on a bit of mus­cle to cope with phys­i­cal hits on the field, es­pe­cially with the big boys in Auck­land.’’

‘‘I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated it a lot more. I tried so hard, I mean I tried hard be­fore but I ques­tioned why I wasn’t suc­ceed­ing and why I wasn’t get­ting any­where.’’

The War­riors was his main goal this year but the NZ Maori Squad se­lec­tion was a bonus.

To top it off his older brother and NRL player Zane was se­lected for the Maori Squad too.

‘‘We were both like ‘yeeyah’ we were both proud of each other.’’

As an older brother and a Manly Sea Ea­gles player, Zane was some­one he looked up to.

De­spite al­ways be­ing re­ferred to as ‘‘Zane’s lit­tle brother’’ Isa­iah hoped for the same fu­ture.

‘‘I want to play for the NRL, to follow in his foot­steps but make my own path as well.’’

Along­side his sib­lings, he said both par­ents were proud, par­tic­u­larly his mother.

‘‘She was al­ways the loud­est on the side­line . . . her and my Nan were yelling at us.’’

But it was not al­ways that way; Cooper-Tete­vano was not al­lowed to play at a young age.

It seems the ‘‘ crashes and bashes’’ in the game could not keep him away.

‘‘My Mum never wanted me to play league but at the age of 13 I had enough, I used to sneak out to games.’’

He spent a cou­ple of months hid­ing the se­cret un­til his mother fig­ured it out.

Now he could not have asked for bet­ter sup­port­ers than his fam­ily, friends and coaches.

‘‘I’m thank­ful for all the peo­ple who have sac­ri­ficed their own time for me with train­ing and support.’’

Voda­fone War­riors academy and path­ways man­ager Duane Mann said Cooper-Tete­vano was one of the 200 play­ers se­lected for a trial game this year.

And out of those he was one of two of­fered a con­tract for the 2015 sea­son.

Mann said he had been on their radar for a while.

‘‘We think he’s ma­ture and he has some ver­sa­til­ity to play in dif­fer­ent po­si­tions.’’

He said his se­lec­tion was based on his abil­ity to make it as an NRL player.

Not only do the young play­ers have to keep up with train­ing five- days- a- week they also have to se­cure part-time study or work.

The praise from Toko­roa High School prin­ci­pal Wil­lie Ford and the work in the com­mu­nity helped with the decision as well, he said. ‘‘We don’t just sign any­body.’’ Cooper-Tete­vano will start off­sea­son train­ing next week un­til the new sea­son starts in March.

Score: Isa­iah Cooper-Tete­vano will live his dream of play­ing in the Un­der 20 War­riors team.

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