Brisbane’s Jamayne Isaako is out to put a horror 2020 behind him and cement himself as the NRL club’s long-term fullback.
The 24-year-old admits his father Taai’s death from cancer in July left his rugby league career low down on his priority list this year.
As the Broncos endured their worst season in the club’s history on the field, Isaako was dealing with grief off it and made just 10 appearances in a disrupted campaign.
“My mind wasn’t in football last year just with all the outside stuff going on with my Dad and all my family sort of stuff,” Isaako said.
“In saying that he’s in a better place now and I’ve got a lot clearer mind on my footy and where I need to be.”
Isaako has returned to Red Hill for the pre-season under new coach Kevin Walters with one ambition, to fill the void left by Darius Boyd’s retirement and become the club’s long-term fullback.
The New Zealand international has played the majority of his NRL career on the wing but believes the No.1 jersey is the right fit for him.
“I want to play fullback. That’s where I’ve been training this off-season,” Isaako said.
Boyd and new Broncos assistant coach Terry Matterson had already been providing him guidance.
“Darbs (Boyd) has only really been in for a couple of sessions but our defensive coach Terry, I sat down and spoke with him.
“As the season goes on I’ll probably sit down and do a lot more with Darbs and pick his brain with the defensive sort of stuff.”
Walters says the No.1 jersey is certainly up for grabs with Isaako and 19-year-old Tesi Niu the players battling for the position.
“Jamayne is certainly in the right position to make that jumper his own, but we just want consistency,” Walters said.
“That’s what we want with all of our players.”