From the Cambridge Raiders junior rugby league club to winning a premiership on NRL Grand Final day and now in contract talks with the Sydney Roosters - that's the dream-come-true rugby league journey of Kurt Kara.
The 23-year-old, born and bred in Cambridge and affiliated to the Ngati Koroki Kahukura and Te pai o Raukawa iwi, was part of the Newtown Jets side that claimed the New South Wales Cup title at ANZ Stadium in Sydney last Sunday.
The Jets beat the Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers 22-18 in what was the first match of the afternoon, followed by the Toyota Cup Under-20s and NRL deciders.
Kara was at hooker for the first 20 minutes of the match, before playing the entire second half at five-eighth after their starting standoff got injured.
Alongside him were some fairly experienced NRL players in the form of Daniel Mortimer, Nafe Seluini and Mose Masoe.
After the Jets dominated early, the Tigers fought back and had a try disallowed by the video referee late in the piece, with the Jets able to cling on for their first premiership since 1943.
"It would have just been a dream come true for a lot of the fans, they're just die-hard fans and real, real supportive," Kara said yesterday, nursing an intense hangover from the Mad Monday celebrations.
"They've been pretty crazy man, as you can probably imagine," he said of the festivities which began on Sunday evening where he then spent time with family who had gone to the match - his dad from Cambridge, cousin from the Gold Coast and mum, sister and cousin from Perth.
"We got back to our footy club and it was just packed with fans just cheering us on, it was pretty cool, it was overwhelming."
Having played rugby league ever since he could catch a ball, Kara started out with the Cambridge Raiders, before playing rugby at school when the club had folded.
He then went back to league with the Turangawaewae club up to senior level and made the WaiCoa Bays Stallions and the New Zealand and New Zealand Maori under-18 sides.
Progressing into the Warriors development system, Kara played in the Toyota Cup team in 2008 and 2009 before deciding to head across the ditch.
He played a season at the Western Suburbs Magpies before the Jets, the feeder club to the NRL's Sydney Roosters, recruited him.
As far as his future goes, Kara is hoping to play in the NRL and for the Kiwis.
He is currently in talks with the Roosters, hoping to land a contract for next year, and is fancying the prospect of training alongside the big guns like Sonny Bill Williams.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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