Warriors, Dragons, Jazz Tevaga, 100 Games, Milestone
Few forwards in the NRL are smaller than Warriors scoring man Jazz Tevaga, but backyard football with his giant Maori and Samoan cousins has toughened him up for battle.
Tevaga rumbled with Jason Taumalolo, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Reagan Campbell-Gillard on the road to his 100-game milestone, which he will reach when the Warriors clash with the Dragons on Saturday.
When asked what it was like to throw around his 178cm, 98kg frame with the NRL’s biggest men, the 26-year-old laughed as he recalled backyard football when he was a child.
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“There are some big boys in there, but I’ve been in the middle all my life, and one thing I’ve been doing since a young age is tackling,” Tevaga said ahead of his scoring game at Kogarah.
“I come from a football background, my whole family played football and I remember from a very young age I was in the background attacking all my cousins more aged.
“So it’s nothing new for me to go after bigger guys. I like to get in there and mess with the big guys.”
Tevaga, born in Christchurch, is of Maori, Samoan and European descent.
He played four Tests for Samoa but his heart goes out to New Zealand, who he hopes to represent at this year’s Rugby World Cup.
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“Island kids – I don’t know what they feed them, but they are different from the normal, average kid,” he said with a bright smile.
Tevaga has been at the heart of the fight since the moment he made his NRL debut.
He has only spotty memories of his first game, against Melbourne at Mt Smart Stadium in the third round, 2016, due to a blow to the head, albeit due to a friendly shot from team-mate Charlie Gubb .
Tevaga’s first NRL game remains a highlight.
“I remember running around and having the feeling of a packed Mt Smart stadium,” Tevaga said.
“I remember watching and seeing Cameron Smith and that, and I remember thinking that I had finally made it.”
Tevaga will become the 27th man to rack up 100 games for the Warriors, joining a list launched by club great Stacey Jones in 1999.
Veteran halfback Shaun Johnson is the Warriors’ only current player in the 100-game club.
Those who matter most will be with Tevaga for his special appearance.
“There are a lot of things in my mind that made me reflect on where I come from and how hard I’ve worked to get here,” Tevaga said.
“So all my family and friends will be in my head and I’ll play for them.”
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