How Robbo reawak­ened Tete­vano’s NRL ca­reer

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - 2018 GRAND FINAL - THE RES­UR­RECTED MATT ENCARNACION

ZANE Tete­vano re­mem­bers the day he saw a friendly face. For the first time in a long time, Tete­vano was con­tent. Two years af­ter plead­ing guilty to as­sault­ing his for­mer girl­friend, he had re­built his life on the cen­tral coast of NSW.

He had pre­vi­ously sworn he would never re­turn to the “toxic en­vi­ron­ment” of the NRL, and found his love for the game play­ing re­serve grade in Wy­ong.

“That year of 2016 was one of my best years play­ing foot­ball, and I was work­ing at the same time build­ing frames and trusses,” Tete­vano said.

Af­ter a July win over a War­riors team came a visit from a for­mer coach in the dress­ing sheds, a man who knew Tete­vano when he first ar­rived in Aus­tralia as an 18-year-old. Be­fore his life hit rock bot­tom, Tete­vano played un­der Trent Robin­son.

“I re­mem­ber I had a con­ver­sa­tion with Robbo mid­way through 2016. He came up to me as we were walk­ing into the chang­e­rooms in Wy­ong,” Tete­vano said. “He had me when he was coach of the New­cas­tle un­der-20s team in 2008. And it was an unreal feel­ing see­ing an old mate.”

Then came the words he thought he’d never hear again. Robin­son wanted to give him a sec­ond chance. A shot at join­ing the Syd­ney Roost­ers NRL squad, and an op­por­tu­nity to show he still had what it takes at first grade level.

“I didn’t think I wanted it. I wasn’t ready emo­tion­ally,” Tete­vano said. “But to speak to him again and to have that feel­ing of be­ing wanted, it was ex­cit­ing and scary at the same time.

“I was ex­tremely ner­vous about it.”

Zane Tete­vano.

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