Why Isaako didn’t quit the Broncos
New Zealander Jamayne Isaako fought off a go-home temptation before re-signing with the Broncos for a concerted bid for premiership glory.
The Warriors and Roosters were among the teams to have been interested in the NRL rookie of the year last year before Isaako signed a new, upgraded four-year deal as his reward for a 239-point season.
"It was a hard decision because I was on the verge of going back home to New Zealand to look after my family,'' said Isaako, who starts his second NRL season for the Broncos on Thursday night against the Storm in Melbourne.
"I didn't think for a while I was going to be offered a long-term contract here. But after the year I had, it really paid off for me.''
Born and raised in Christchurch, Isaako came to Australia in 2012 as a junior development player with Cronulla.
"I got a wee bit homesick on my third year in Australia and went back home. I got an opportunity to come here in 2015 and been here ever since,'' said Isaako, who joined the Broncos in 2017.
"It was a high last season and I'll remember it very fondly.''
Isaako, 22, will have to deal with the usual second-year examinations from opponents and their coaches after a successful first year, but has made good useful of a truncated pre-season forced by his tour of England with the Kiwis.
"My second full year in the NRL, I have to brush everything that happened last year,'' he said.
"It's a huge focus for me. I have to compete each week and show I am capable of holding my spot.
"I feel like all the hard work has been put in.''
Broncos strength and conditioning staff helped Isaako stock a home gym in his garage and the results are a stronger upper body.
Isaiah, the four-month-old of son his partner Abby Sutherland born last year, provides the inspiration to use the gym.
"After my first year of NRL, I was a bit battered and bruised and one of my goals was to put some muscle on for this year in my upper body, so I could feel more physical,'' he said.
"He's been the motivation for me to do that hard work. You are a bit busted and bruised after training, but for me to go home and look at him, it's the reason I'm doing what I'm doing. I can go downstairs and do the hard work with the inspiration from him being in our family.
"I've been working on it hard over the last four weeks or so especially.''
The Broncos right winger said he is content to wait for his chance to play fullback, his ultimate goal.
"For the time being I'm happy doing my apprenticeship under Darius (Boyd) and learning what I can,'' Isaako said.
"He's one of the masters in that position. He's really helped me perfect my game more.''