Warriors dream comes true for Tokoroa teen
REWARD: Isaiah Cooper-Tetevano will live his dream of playing in the Under 20 Warriors team.
Perserverance has paid off for Tokoroa's Isaiah Cooper-Tetevano, who finally broke into the Warriors Under-20 squad after a series of knockbacks.
And his success was sweetened by a place in the New Zealand Maori Squad as well.
The 19-year-old was offered a two-year contract with the Warriors on his third attempt.
He said his failures did not bring him down, they only fuelled his desires more.
''The fact I didn't make it, it just made me want it more.''
All of the extra weight training and 5am starts paid off for the 95kg centre and second rower.
''I had to put on a bit of muscle to cope with physical hits on the field, especially with the big boys in Auckland.
''I tried so hard, I mean I tried hard before but I questioned why I wasn't succeeding and why I wasn't getting anywhere.''
Breaking into the Warriors was his main goal this year but the NZ Maori Squad selection was a bonus. To top it off his older brother Zane, who plays for the Manly Sea Eagles, was selected for the Maori Squad too.
''We were both like 'yeeyah' we were both proud of each other.''
Despite always being referred to as ''Zane's little brother'' Isaiah hoped for the same future as his sibling.
''I want to play for the NRL, to follow in his footsteps but make my own path as well.''
He said both parents were proud, particularly his mother.
''She was always the loudest on the sideline ... her and my Nan were yelling at us.''
But it was not always that way; Cooper-Tetevano was not allowed to play at a young age.
It seems the ''crashes and bashes'' in the game could not keep him away.
''My Mum never wanted me to play league but at the age of 13 I had enough, I used to sneak out to games.''
He spent a couple of months hiding the secret until his mother figured it out.
Now he could not have asked for better supporters than his family, friends and coaches.
''I'm thankful for all the people who have sacrificed their own time for me with training and support.''
Warriors academy and pathways manager Duane Mann said Cooper-Tetevano was one of the 200 players selected for a trial game this year. And out of those he was one of two offered a contract for the 2015 season.
Mann said he had been on their radar for a while.
''We think he's mature and he has some versatility to play in different positions.''
He said his selection was based on his ability to make it as an NRL player.
Not only do the young players have to keep up with training five-days-a-week they also have to secure part-time study or work.
The praise from Tokoroa High School principal Willie Ford and the work in the community helped with the decision as well, he said.
''We don't just sign anybody.''
Cooper-Tetevano will start off-season training next week until the new season starts in March.