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The young man hailed for lighting up Georgia's life

Georgia Hale is a tackling machine and Kiwi Ferns international who is at the top of her game.

But her work behind the scenes at the Warriors has earned just as much praise and she has a charming young man to thank for it.  

Hale's relationship with 18-year-old Shakur, a friend with Down syndrome, has grown since her work as a teacher at a learning support centre in Auckland.

"I think in any other situation a student connecting with a teacher like this would probably be illegal," Hale laughed, opening up to

"But I met Shakur straight out of school and for whatever reason since he was about 16 he's had his heart set on getting a girlfriend.

"It was strictly 'Miss Hale is off-limits she's your teacher kind of thing', but he's been a special friend since the moment I met him.

Warriors captain Georgia Hale.
Warriors captain Georgia Hale. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

"He's a massive league supporter and back at school would have me out at lunchtime with my work boots saying it's time for tackle practice.

"When I made the decision to come over to the Warriors and do some work here I had to tell Shakur I was no longer his teacher but joked he could now take me out on a date."

Shakur was not going to forget that comment any time soon and the pair continue to socialise on a regular basis.

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"To him, I'm his girlfriend so our dates consist of going to McDonalds, watching the footy, the movies and ice cream meet ups so it's always lots of fun," Hale said.

"We might not say much while we're together but he can tell with my body language and his face that we're having a good time.

"I took him back to his school ball, which again would probably be illegal under different circumstances, but we've been able to share some special moments."

Hale has been inspired in her work with people like Shakur to switch jobs and take on the role as the Warriors' community coordinator.

"My job is so rewarding and there's so much that we do in our day, week and season that I'm grateful to be a part of," Hale said.

"I've had the opportunity to put on an intellectual disabilities clinic that included a game before a Warriors game this year that I've included Shakur in.

"Our days range from being out with our charity partners to in schools and grassroots rugby league clubs. I just love having the opportunity to give back and building those friendships."

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Hale will pull on another jersey on Friday, the New Zealand jersey, for the 12th time in her international career after she was a finalist for NRLW player of the year at the recent RLPA awards.

She knows she has a weight of support behind her.

"Shakur is always sitting in front of the box watching so that's really nice to know he's watching," she said.

"For him to see us on TV and read about us in the paper he's like wow. Even something like this story he would love reading about himself."

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