How Broncos lured Isaako from Sharks
Jamayne Isaako had a long-time burning desire to play for the Brisbane Broncos and it took just one phone call from veteran player-manager Jim Banaghan to Wayne Bennett to make it happen.
The off-contract 21-year-old has impressed in the opening two rounds of the Telstra Premiership on the wing and NRL.com understands the Broncos are set to enter talks with Banaghan to extend his contract.
Isaako spent two years in the Cronulla Sharks program before joining the Broncos in 2016 after he was a schoolboy sensation at centre for Endeavour Sports High School where he came to Brisbane's attention.
The Sharks' loss appears to be a great gain for the Broncos with Isaako earmarked for a big future, with fullback the position where he is most at home.
Christchurch-born Isaako was man of the match playing at centre when Endeavour beat Patrician Brothers in the GIO Cup grand final in 2014.
"I took Jamayne for lunch one day when he was going home to Christchurch and on the way to the airport he told me he wasn't happy at Cronulla and wanted to play for Brisbane," Banaghan told NRL.com.
"I rung Benny (Wayne Bennett) up and said I had a special kid and a genuine first-grader who wants to play for the Broncos and he said 'leave it with me for a week'.
"Benny must have seen some schoolboy vision of Jamayne and checked him out with his contacts, and rang me back and said 'yeah, we'll take him'. That's how simple it was."
Isaako had grown up wanting to be an All Black, but was also a Broncos fan.
"Darren Lockyer was my biggest idol growing up, but I played First XV rugby union for my school until I was picked up by the Cronulla Sharks with their junior development," he said.
"The year I was playing in the schoolboy final I met up with my manager and I told him how much I loved the Broncos and he made it happen and got me over here."
Isaako played a full season for Souths-Logan in 2017 where he was the Intrust Super Cup fullback of the year.
"The Broncos have looked after him and persevered with him and it has been a wonderful transition," Banaghan said.
"They extended him midway through last season for this year and I wouldn't think a change of situation would be good for him. In four or five weeks we'll sit down and talk about the future but Jamayne is extremely happy and has given no indication that he wants to leave."
Isaako has a massive boot and has been taking care of the Broncos restarts. He told NRL.com of the two voices in his head when he executed a perfect short drop-out when the Broncos were trailing 8-0 against the Cowboys on Friday night and staring down the barrel. Brisbane regained possession and never looked back and secured a 24-20 victory.
"At training Wayne is always telling me to kick the ball long but it came to a point in the game where we needed to get the ball back and that's when Milf (Anthony Milford) came up to me and told me to try the short kick-off, and it paid off," Isaako said.
"I was a bit iffy about it because I didn't want to get in trouble from Wayne, but credit to Jordan Kahu who caught the ball.
"I'd been practising them at training but I didn't think we'd do one in a game so it was good to pull one off and be successful with it."