Jamayne Isaako is relishing having Brisbane's goal-kicking duties back because he says he plays better when he has the added pressure of having to land crucial goals.
The 23-year-old winger missed two games mid-season when he visited his sick father in New Zealand and on his return Kotoni Staggs retained the goal-kicking duties for several matches.
Now that Isaako is back kicking again he is hitting top form in general play with his attacking displays against the Cowboys and Panthers crucial in Brisbane’s two wins.
"Ever since I have got the goal-kicking duties back it has made me appreciate having that job with the team. I definitely play better. I think that having that pressure drives me," Isaako told NRL.com ahead of the Broncos clash with the Eels at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
"In tough games I like to be able to get that two points to put us ahead. I know I have the ability to be a good goal kicker and that motivates me. I am still coming in on my days off and going down to Carina with Mick De Vere and practising my kicking down there."
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After winning the Dally M rookie of the year award in 2018 Isaako had a slow start to the season and was initially unable to recapture last season’s form. News of his father Taai’s terminal cancer rocked Isaako to the core.
He was also taking time, as did the rest of the Broncos, to adapt to new coach Anthony Seibold’s systems.
"I think being back on the field playing and a lot less stressed about everything that is happening off the field with my family and my father has made a difference," Isaako said.
"I think everyone knows that my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I took that very hard at the start of the year.
"My head space wasn’t right after hearing that news about my old man, but being able to go home and spend time with him and get my head around everything that is going on helped me to come back here and focus on footy.
"I have been playing pretty good the last couple of weeks so hopefully I can keep that form up. At the start of the year I think I was trying to play the way I did last year rather than trying to play my natural footy.
"Now that I have got more of an understanding of how the coach wants me to play, and how I want to play, I think I have adapted to it."
Isaako's right-side combination with centre Staggs is also starting to gel in attack, and particularly in defence.
"Staggsy is electric in attack and being able to get early ball from him has been really good as we build a combination on that right edge," Isaako said.
"In the last few weeks in particular we have focused a lot on our defence together because Seibs’s defensive systems are a bit different to last year.
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"Seibs likes our defensive line to move up whereas last year we were a bit more of a passive defensive side.
"Me and Staggs have worked on that because at the start of the year it was hard to adapt to.
"It takes away the attacking team’s time to obviously play footy and gives us a lot clearer indication whether to make a jam decision in defence."