Kahu ready to kick on
EVERYONE, meet Dr Kahu. Dr Kahu, meet everyone. Please refrain from ever referring to him as Jordan. As of now, he’s ‘Doc’, because, he might as well be one.
“I do like learning about different injuries,” explains Kahu. “Whenever I’m in surgery, I always end up eavesdropping on conversations doctors have with players. So I guess I know a fair bit now.”
Great, so this is what it’s come to. This is how bad it can become. As a matter of fact, it actually surprises us that we haven’t arrived here earlier.
Can a rugby league player be so physically banged up, spend so much time in the confines of hospital wards that he would hang up his boots for... a stethoscope?
“Er, probably not,” he replies. “It’s not my forté. I don’t think I could deal with all the paperwork.”
We assure you, for someone who went all the way to the Arrive Alive Cup Final with the now deceased Mosese Fotuaika in 2009, someone who spent his entire 2012 campaign raising dumbbells alongside a team-mate who was rehabbing an ankle a real doc – orthopaedic surgeon Peter Myers – said was the worst injury he’d seen in 33 years, this is certainly no laughing matter.
But for every Jharal Yow Yeh, for every hard luck story and their seemingly never-ending trail of injuries, there’s always a Jordan Kahu.
While rumours abound as to whether Yow Yeh will ever again run freely, let alone ever grace an NRL field again, the kid who grew closest to him throughout the past year has finally emerged from the dark places players disappear to when their only mention on team lists is in the casualty ward of Big League.
“We’ve become close the past few years, just obviously because we’ve been in rehab together and we’re always at the Leagues Club when everyone else isn’t,” Kahu explains.
“He’s been through some dark days, Jharal. Obviously at the start with him spending several weeks in hospital, I got up there to see him a few times and he did it quite tough.”
Kahu was loitering deep in those shadows long before Yow Yeh joined him. The rugby union convert had played just the first two games of the season with the under-20s in 2011 before suffering his first cruciate ligament injury in his knee. Less than a year later, in a trial game with the Broncos’ NRL team, his right knee ruptured again, and those mental demons returned.
“You have random moments where you look at the boys having fun on the field and you get jealous and discouraged that you’re not out there when you’re supposed to be,” the 22-year-old Kiwi says. “After wins you’d see everyone happy and you try to be but you’re really not because deep down inside you want to be a part of it.
“Physically, it was easy to deal with the pain. You get used to it. It’s the other stuff that’s hard to deal with.”
Which says a lot, particularly after Fotuaika took his own life earlier this year after suffering a season-ending pectoral injury just days before the start of the season.
“The hardest part is knowing that you haven’t proven yourself to anyone yet and I just really wanted to do that while I was young so that I could get my career on a roll,” he says.
“That was truly the worst part; just knowing that I’ve still got a lot to prove and worrying about whether the coaching staff had faith in me.
“But to be honest it was easy because of the people I had around me. The club was there every step of the way. They all felt for me, but I don’t think there was one person who said I should give up.
“They did get me to do an IT course, but that was the worst it got.”
Once touted as the man to succeed Darren Lockyer in the Broncos’ famous No.6 jersey, Kahu only recently returned from another bout of medical eavesdropping after missing four weeks with a hand injury. He made his long-awaited NRL debut in Round 4 this year and has played eight games since, scoring four tries.
He hopes those dark days are long behind him and has his eyes pinned on a healthy future in what is currently the most prized Broncos jumper in 2014.
“Everyone that makes their debut says their first few games were real fast and physical, but my first two games were against Melbourne and the Rabbitohs, so it doesn’t get much tougher than that,” says Kahu, who the Broncos committed to for a further two years last month.
“But now that I’m fit, I’d like to play fullback. That’s where I first started playing rugby league and I really liked it there. Maybe in the pre-season I can set that as a goal, but right now I’m just happy to be in the team.”
Which is exactly the same thing Yow Yeh would say, when – not if – he returns to somewhere near the level of fitness that made him a Queensland and Australia representative.
“I’ve pretty much seen every little step he’s taken to get back onto the field this year. He’ll be back,” says Kahu.
He should know.