HI, it’s Jammer here.
Well, unfortunately last Sunday’s result was disappointing for us as a team and as a town.
One major positive was the record-breaking crowd. Although we couldn’t put it together on the field, the feeling running out in front of a 15,000-odd crowd was amazing.
There were some major positives to come out of last Sunday’s game, though, particularly the new combination between Rod the Rocket and new boy Paul Whatuira. This could blossom into something really special.
Now, as Andy and myself said in our first column, we will be taking you inside the Giants for a close-up look at all the players. This week we bring you an insight into Paul Whatuira’s life.
Born in Wellington, New Zealand Paul is of Maori heritage and is a proud kiwi.
There has been many a picture of Paul doing the Haka when playing Test rugby league for New Zealand and his fierce facials don’t just stay there. His competitive nature and professional attitude has seen him have a truly remarkable career and he is still at the tender age of only 26.
Paul has been lucky enough to win two Premierships in the Australian NRL, he also won the Tri-series in 2005 and has played in a losing World Club Challenge Wests Tigers side.
A very accomplished player at a relatively young age with loads of experience, we go one-on-one with Paul in an exclusive insight.
Jamaal: How have you settled in and how are you finding English life?
Paul: Settled in really well, I thought it would be a bit tough and I might get a bit homesick, but I’ve found it easy living with Jammer, who has been here for a year, and George (Gatis) who lives downstairs. Having mates so close by has made it really easy and I’m loving it at the moment.
Andy: Growing up in a rugby union dominated country, how hard was it to establish yourself as a rugby league player and to make a career out of it?
Paul: Well, my father and brother both played rugby league and the town I grew up in was one of a few that also played league, so it was kind of a natural progression for me. When I was 16 I played in the new Zealand national comp and didn’t get picked, I saw that team and decided it was going to be me in that team next year and trained harder and sacrificed a lot. I made it that next year and it all started to happen fairly quickly from there. I got signed by the New Zealand Warriors and than moved onto Melbourne Storm. I didn’t get many chances and got offered a release and, being only 20, I had to work extra hard to get a start anywhere else. I went Penrith where I won a premiership than to the tigers where I also won one.
Andy: The NRL has an average crowd of about 20,000, what’s your first impressions of the Super League crowds?
Paul: Very vocal and very passionate. Although they don’t have the numbers of the NRL, you’d think you were playing in front of 50,000.
Jamaal: Away from rugby league, what are your interests/hobbies and what do you do in your spare time?
Paul: Well last year I was doing a sports business management degree, which was refreshing for me to get away from rugby league which can be 24-7 at sometimes. I enjoy travelling and I get away once a year usually in off-season, hanging with my mates and recently Xbox. I’m now addicted to it, but I can’t beat Jammer – it’s really getting to me! – though George is a push-over. I enjoy cooking but living with George and, of course, Jammer I’ve been eating in style. George runs the kitchen and we’ve been eating like kings. Andy Raleigh and Kevin Brown have eaten at our apartment and they now call it The Oasis.
Andy: If there were a fire at The Oasis (his apartment) what possession would you grab first?
Paul: I’d have to say my laptop, it contains all my photos and funny stuff on it.
Jamaal: What was it like winning not just one but two premierships?
Paul: The first one I was very fortunate to be playing with a very high-quality set of players, I was extremely privileged to play in such a great side. When I went to the Tigers I thought I would never get another one because it’s so hard to win it twice. But we had a great bunch of boys, including current Giants players Skando (John Skandalis) and ‘Spud’ Elford and our momentum just kept us going through the finals series. They had to be two of the greatest feats of my life, the celebrations were phenomenal everything you strive for in league you’ve just won. It’s nearly indescribable the party goes for at least a week.
Jamaal: You did a nude calendar for a cancer charity in Australia. How was that?
Paul: Yeah, it was an experience. It took a bit of persuading, it was something I wouldn’t usually do, but it was for a good cause and I’ve had three aunties pass away with cancer. There have been so many people affected by cancer one photoshoot wasn’t too much to ask.