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Broncos fullback Jamayne Isaako.

Grateful for Brisbane's understanding during one of the toughest years of his life, Jamayne Isaako dedicated his off-season to assisting the club's community team.

Isaako's father, Tai, tragically died from brain cancer in July 2020. The winger returned to New Zealand for the funeral and, due to quarantine requirements, he didn't play again that season.

"I took a lot of time out of the game to get myself right and to spend time with my family," the 2018 Dally M Rookie of the Year said.

"When I came back, the club were really supportive of me. I spoke with my partner about ways in which I could give back to the club.

"One of those was giving up my off-season time to help out with whatever the community team upstairs had going on."

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Jamayne Isaako (@jamaynisaako)

And so while many fellow players enjoyed freedom from their strict biosecurity bubbles by deservedly going on holiday, Isaako visited schools, hospitals and happily worked with a range of charities.

Isaako has been recognised with a nomination for the esteemed Ken Stephen Medal, proudly brought to you by Your Local Club.

"I did a couple of trips within Queensland," Isaako said.

"I think there was like a seven-hour drive to Chinchilla from Brisbane in a car with a couple of the community team.

"We went down to the school – Chinchilla State High, I'm pretty sure it was. Played a few games with the kids and just tried to put smiles on their faces. For me, it was a selfless thing to do after going through what was one of the toughest years last year.

In footy and in life, be there for an offload

"Brigid [Donelly], who works in community [for the Broncos], I have a pretty close relationship with her. I sent her a message and said ... anything to do with the community, I was willing to put my hand up."

The 25-year-old devoted himself to causes like Share the Dignity, an organisation that provides sanitary items to women in need; Strong Hearts, working with disabled youth; the Broncos Girls Academy program; and Act for Kids, which prevents and treats child abuse.

"All these organisations are great. Supporting kids, people in need. It's in my nature to help out whenever anyone needs a hand, especially those who are less fortunate than us NRL players," he said.

"We recently visited a childhood cancer support facility where I had an experience with a lot of young kids who were in the organisation.

"I got to bond with them and spend a bit of time. We had a barbecue and painted a few fences, which I guess really lifted their spirits.

"Getting to put a smile on little kids' faces like that really makes my day. I've got a son and a daughter and I'd really hate for them to grow up in or experience an environment like that."

Try July funds pass the quarter-million mark in Round 19

If Isaako was to win the fan vote, which will decide one of four Ken Stephen Medal finalists and closes on August 8, he would claim a $3500 cash prize for his junior back home, the Aranui Eagles.

"I come from a small little town, Aranui in Christchurch, New Zealand. I haven't really been back to do anything since I've made it in the NRL, just with footy commitments and stuff," he said.

"To be able to get that cash and give back to my junior rugby league club would be a huge inspiration ... for the young kids growing up within Aranui and up playing for the Eagles."