Brisbane Broncos match-winner Jamayne Isaako says he grew up idolising All Blacks rugby union legend Dan Carter after displaying similar mental toughness under pressure to boot his team to a 9-7 victory over the Wests Tigers on Friday night.
The 21-year-old scored all nine of Brisbane’s points in a low-scoring affair at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, but it was a tough penalty goal to level things up in the dying minutes that was arguably his toughest assignment of the night.
Skipper Darius Boyd turned to Isaako after the penalty was blown and said ''can you kick it?'' Isaako didn’t shirk the challenge despite playing only his third game in the NRL.
''At the time I copped a cork being dragged out at the end,'' Isaako said.
''But I said I'd cop one for the team and I'm grateful to have been able to knock it over and get the win. It's definitely something I like to pride myself on, my kicking.
''I come from a rugby background and growing up I idolised Dan Carter. Being here in Brisbane, definitely in my spare time I like to get out and practice my kicking.''
The Cronulla Sharks were the club that recruited Isaako from New Zealand and he only managed to land in Brisbane through his own perseverance.
''He wanted to play at the Broncos,” Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett said.
''I got a telephone call and he wanted to play for the Broncos. The Sharks did recruit him but I got a phone call that he wanted to come. I had just come back [from the World Cup] and we grabbed him.''
Isaako admits he wasn't happy at Cronulla, asking his manager to try and find him a spot in an already talented roster at the Broncos.
''I was signed at Cronulla and I just wasn't happy with how things were going down there,'' Isaako said.
''The way footy was going for me at the time, one lunch time I met up with my manager and spoke to him about trying to get up to Brissy. He got in contact with Wayne and managed to get something going.
''I didn't know much about rugby league when I got here, but I knew the Broncos had a history of being a good club and being a real professional club. My manager had links to the Broncos and I saw that as an opportunity to get up here.''