NRL 2022, All Stars, Jazz Tevaga, Warriors tough man can’t wait to make Maori debut

The “Mate vs Mate” slogan made famous in State of Origin will return to the fore in the All Stars match when Maori hardman Jazz Tevaga takes on fellow Warrior Josh Curran, who is making his third appearance for the Indigenous side.

Tevaga played four Tests for Samoa at the 2017 World Cup and, having recently confirmed his Maori heritage, he says he is looking forward to stepping out and having a chance at the CommBank Stadium on February 12.

“I’ve been looking forward to playing this game for a while and my whole family back home is very proud. They can’t wait to see me go out and do the haka,” Tevaga said Friday from the Warriors base in Redcliffe.

“Boys who have played before tell me that this is a special week and that they are reconnecting with their heritage and their family ties.

“I’m very keen to come in and learn more about our culture and represent all Maori back home.

“It’s going to be weird going up against Joshy and his team. Nathan Brown has already spoken to me a bit and told me not to be silly if Josh is in the tackle, but if he is there I will chop his head off!

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For Brown, it may be a case of ‘look the other way now’ when Tevaga starts to go for the native forwards, but the Warriors coach would be nothing short of the aggressive back rower.

Jazz will definitely play with a lot of passion and desire. He won’t go hungry, that’s for sure,” Brown said.

“Whether he’s playing in the backyard or in practice or playing for the Warriors, he goes all out.

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“He has his body in the best shape he has ever had from a physical point of view, so it will be good from a club point of view to see him running in the shape he is in.

“The biggest conversation with Jazz this off-season was getting his body right, he’s had some ankle issues for the past few years. He probably needed to lose a few pounds, but he really worked hard on his diet and he ticked all the boxes to get physically fit.

Tevaga will be joined in David Kidwell’s Maori squad by fellow warriors Chanel Harris-Tavita and Kodi Nikorima while Curran is the club’s sole representative on the native side.

It may not be an easy task for Brown as he hopes the quartet come out unscathed with the NRL season just a month away, but he says the club would never retain a player if he wanted to represent his culture.

“The nature of our game is that things can go wrong at any time, but to have an elite football team you need players in your team who are of representative level, so it’s positive that guys be chosen,” he said.

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“At our club there’s probably a lot more to the cultural aspect of being where we come from and you add a number of Australians and Koori boys to go with all the different cultures that we have. is obviously something that is very important to many of the players at our club.

“Supporting the All Stars game is the best option and the right thing to do. Overall most of our boys want to play and all the boys playing have had good pre-seasons and there’s no reason so that they don’t play.

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