Ese'ese's career turning point
Brisbane prop Herman Ese'ese has revealed the tutelage of Broncos great Corey Parker helped him go from rock bottom to one of the NRL's best young forwards.
Ese'ese arrived at Red Hill in 2016, playing under the captaincy of Parker in what was to be the last year of Parker's illustrious career.
When he first landed in Brisbane in 2015, Ese'ese's life was a mess, with the young New Zealander released from his final year at the Canterbury Bulldogs after being stood down for drink driving.
Overweight and financially unstable, a return to his "second home" in Brisbane was the only choice for Ese'ese and it soon paid dividends.
Finding happiness surrounded by friends and family, Ese'ese was offered a lifeline by Souths Logan before being picked up by the Broncos in the following months.
Although signed with Brisbane, a lot of work still needed to be done to get Ese'ese up to NRL standard.
He needed guidance and it was not long before Parker became the one to offer it, with the then Broncos captain offering Ese'ese both on-field and off-field advice.
Ese'ese went on to play eight games off the bench for Brisbane in 2016 in a solid start to his career under coach Wayne Bennett and the leadership of Parker.
Now in his second year, Ese'ese is beginning to reach his potential, producing the best numbers of his career after a full pre-season at the Broncos.
He has played 17 games for the season and has started in eight, averaging over 105 running metres and 20 tackles per game.
So good has Ese'ese's year been that he attracted offers from a number of clubs for the 2018 season, with the Newcastle Knights' big-money deal persuading him to join the club next year.
But first he has unfinished business with the Broncos – a club that has taught him so much and changed his life for the better.
In particular, Ese'ese is forever grateful to his teammates over the past two seasons, especially Parker who is still around the club in a coaching capacity now that he is retired.
"Guys like Josh McGuire, Adam Blair and Corey Parker have been really helpful. Not just for me, but all the other young forwards coming through. I was really fortunate to come here and have those types of players around me," Ese'ese said.
"They lead from the front and are professional. They've been in first grade for a number of years so they know how to be leaders.
"Corey played over 300 games. Every time he starts talking us young fellas listen. I try and soak in as much as I can.
"It's great having him here every Monday. Up in the computer room he always does review sessions with us so it's great to have him here.
"He's busy with other commitments but he goes out of his way to come here and help us younger guys."
Come the end of 2017, Ese'ese will be sad to leave the Broncos but the opportunity in Newcastle was just too good to refuse.
He hopes to end his tenure at Brisbane as a premiership winner and his side are in a good position to do so – sitting second.
"Brisbane is my second home. I feel great with family and close mates around," Ese'ese said.
"Once I got the opportunity to be here I knew I could turn my career around. I'm still young and I have gained a lot of confidence and belief in myself. Newcastle is the next step.
"It would mean a lot to have the ultimate success here. My main goal is to leave here with a ring on my finger. We have a team that can do it. It's now about taking it one game at a time and being confident in our ability."