Kahu eager to fill Broncos' Boyd void
Twelve months ago he was touted as the long-term successor to Darren Lockyer's famed Broncos No.6 jersey but talented utility Jordan Kahu has now set his sights on becoming Brisbane's first-choice fullback.
While Brisbane's place in premiership betting was adjusted as soon as news filtered through that Darius Boyd had suffered a serious achilles injury at training last Friday, Kahu was in a 'no phone' zone on a club promotional tour to the Dawson Mine two-and-a-half hours west of Gladstone in Central Queensland.
When his phone burst to life upon leaving the mine Kahu quickly came to the realisation that something significant had happened and shortly after that an opportunity may have presented itself to fill the large void left by Boyd's long-term absence.
"I had a couple of texts on my phone and went on my Facebook and just saw it everywhere so it was pretty devastating," Kahu said of the injury to Boyd. "When you've had an injury that can put you out for a good year you understand the trials and tribulations you go through so you don't wish that upon anyone.
"Obviously it was devastating news about 'Darbs' getting injured but I guess it opens up a few more spots. Before that happened I was just focusing on trying to train my best and getting my body right and staying injury free so I could put my hand up in front of Wayne (Bennett, Broncos coach).
"Fullback's probably my preferred position; I just obviously haven't been able to fit into that position the last couple of years.
"I'm just going to do everything I can to get into that position. It's such a good club and to put that 'one' jersey on with the likes of the players of the past who have put it on it would be a privilege and I've got to work for that privilege."
Kahu knows a thing or two about emerging from the darkness having had to fight back twice from reconstructions to his right knee prior to making his NRL debut in 2013. Then last February as he pushed for a permanent role at five-eighth in a trial against the Cowboys, Kahu crumbled into the Dolphin Oval turf in Redcliffe clutching his left knee just minutes from full-time.
He was told on the spot that he had suffered a third ACL tear but it wasn't until surgery had been completed some two weeks later that he was given the news that brought tears to his eyes.
"I got a little bit teary eh. I woke up and I asked one of the nurses, 'What did I have done?' And she just told me that they repaired the MCL (medial cruciate ligament) and I said, 'Sweet' and I got a bit teary and went back to sleep for the next couple of hours," said the 23-year-old.
"I had scans the very next day (after suffering the injury) and then I didn't have surgery for two weeks and I didn't know what they were going to do until I went into surgery. I didn't know what was happening until I woke up. I could have had the knee reconstruction or I could have had what I had so I woke up pretty happy."
Even as he endured those agonising two weeks waiting to learn his immediate fate, Kahu said that he remained determined to fight his way back into the NRL and fulfil the enormous potential he has displayed since coming over from New Zealand to attend famed rugby league school Keebra Park High on the Gold Coast.
He went in for a clean-up on his left knee following Brisbane's exit from the finals and only rejoined the main training group for the first time on Tuesday, immediately pushing himself into a fullback-type role to make his intentions to Bennett abundantly clear.
"Me personally, I've got so much more I want to do in this sport," said Kahu, who scored two tries for the Broncos in their Elimination Final loss to the Cowboys in September. "I haven't achieved much – I've obviously played first grade which is a big achievement – but in regards to what I've set my goals and what I think I can do myself I don't think I'll give up until I do achieve those things.
"The last couple of years, every time I'd step I'd be a bit nervous and wouldn't fully commit but now I'm confident. I know within myself that I won't be able to play the best I can if I'm worrying about my knees and I know that I've done the training to look after myself."