Friday, November 13, 2009

Rugby League Star Hayne credits Yacata Boy

Hayne credits Yacata Boy Semi Tadulala - Friday, November 13, 2009

FORMER Wakefield and Bradford winger Semi Tadulala (son of Rev Irinale Tadulala) has been credited with turning a wayward Jarryd Hayne into the world's best rugby league player.

The pair forged a close relationship during Fiji's remarkable World Cup campaign, the foundations of which were built on religion, and they have spent much time together in Leeds this week in the build-up to Saturday's Gillette Four Nations final.

Hayne, the NRL's Dally M award winner who was crowned international player of the year on Monday night, is expected to be on the right wing for Australia against England at Elland Road, but it was his exploits with Fiji that helped transform his career.

The Parramatta full-back never looked back after finding God with the help of Tadulala and the rest of the Fijiians during their run to the semi-finals of the World Cup 12 months ago.

"It's been a massive year and full credit goes to Fiji and what happened in that tournament," said Hayne, whose Fijiian father Manoa Thompson had a spell with Warrington in the 1990s.

"Semi is one of the blokes who gave me a lot of support and I've caught up with him heaps since I've been in Leeds. He's done wonders with me. Whenever I'm stuck or confused, Semi is always there for me, he's been awesome."

Hayne admitted that he was a reluctant Christian when he first joined the Fijiian camp in preparation for the World Cup but puts their shock 42-6 win over France down to his faith.

"We didn't want to be disrespectful so we went (to prayers)," he said. "At first we looked at it as more of a hassle but that France game showed that you can achieve anything when you're with God.

"They had players that played in Super League, the second-best competition in the world, against blokes that were playing park footie for $200 a game and we flogged them.

"Look where I am today! I'm at the top of a mountain and I've never been happier and full credit goes to the Fijiians, to God and to the church. Without them I wouldn't be here."

Hayne also traces his change of lifestyle to an horrific incident in the Kings Cross area of Sydney, where he was the target of a drive-by shooting.

"We were out in town and things just boiled over," he recalled. "It was a renowned area for party-goers and me and a couple of team-mates got shot at.

"It was a close call. I could be dead. But it's something I don't regret. I'm glad it happened because it slowly opened my eyes. It was the start of me becoming the player and the person I am today. In one sense, I'm glad it happened but in another sense I hope it never happens again because it scared me."

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