Isaako has substance to go with style
Jamayne Isaako's coaching mentor nicknamed him "Hollywood" for his movie star looks and dress sense but the 21-year-old Brisbane Broncos winger also has the humility and work ethic to take him a long way.
Isaako, who made his NRL debut last year against the Newcastle Knights, is set to be named on the wing for the Broncos in the Telstra Premiership opener against the St George Illawarra Dragons on Thursday night.
The talented outside back starred with the Souths-Logan Magpies last year in the Intrust Super Cup where he was the competition's fullback of the year.
Isaako is built like Israel Folau in the legs and upper body, and with footwork to match, and Magpies coach Jon Buchanan assured NRL.com the kid can play.
"I nicknamed him Hollywood because he looks like a movie star, but he is an extremely humble young man that you want to see do really well because of how hard he's worked the last 18 months and how appreciative he is of the people who have helped him along the way," Buchanan told NRL.com.
"Jamayne has a big set of quads like Izzy but is a fair bit shorter. He's got X-factor, electric footwork and he is a terrific talker.
"He will worry teams with his footwork and when he brings the ball back he'll get between bodies. With Corey Oates they should get their sets started well. If they are playing him on the wing, Jamayne will be a target but under the high ball he is very safe and athletic enough in the air.
"I think he is going to be one of those players who the more time he spends in better company the better he'll go."
Brisbane captain Darius Boyd insisted Isaako has "definitely got all the attributes".
"He can goal-kick and is probably going to be the one doing our kick-offs and drop-kicks ... and he kicks it a mile," Boyd said.
"He is a smart kid and a competitive kid. In the pre-season he was one of the blokes leading fitness and one of the strongest backs in the gym so I am looking forward to seeing him play."
Last Thursday at training Isaako and Anthony Milford practised their drop-outs from underneath the posts. A Broncos staffer was in the distance calling out how many metres they went on the fly. The running commentary on Isaako's numbers went like this: "That's 59" ... "61" ... "62" ... "57" ...
When Isaako finished the drills NRL.com asked what was his record.
"I kicked one 75 metres on the fly once… but that was with a bit of a breeze at my back," he grinned.
When Isaako went to Papua New Guinea recently for a trial he impressed Broncos staff with the way he volunteered to help them pick up training gear and his helpful attitude.
It is a selfless quality that has endeared him to Buchanan who said there was another side to his 'Hollywood' nickname.
"He is always dressed immaculately, he's got the sunnies on and just looks smooth, like a Hollywood actor," Buchanan grinned.
"I used to say to him 'can you stop buying all these flash shoes and clothes and wear something daggy because you are costing me a fortune'.
"He asked why, and I told him it was because my 10-year-old son absolutely idolises him and when we go shopping he says 'can I get those Nike shoes like Jamayne'.
"Jamayne is extremely humble to go with all that. He will bring my young fella a signed football or play with the kids for half an hour, and he always pops in at Davies Park and asks our CEO Jim McClelland if there is anything he can do.
"To give you an idea, we trained last Tuesday night and he and [fellow Broncos recruit] George Fai turned up to watch us. He's not getting too far ahead of himself and really appreciates the path that he's had the last couple of years
"A lot of kids can get caught up reading too much press and thinking they know it all but Jamayne is extremely coachable."