North Queensland Cowboys star Jeremiah Nanai says he is currently fulfilling a childhood dream by representing Australia at a World Cup.
The 19-year-old forward made his international debut earlier this month in Australia’s World Cup opening victory over Fiji, winning two caps so far.
Nanai had to make a tough call ahead of the World Cup on who he was going to represent. He was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia as well as being of Samoan heritage. Nanai says it was always his ambition to pull on the Green and Gold jersey growing up.
“It’s a dream come true,” Nanai said. “I’ve always wanted to play for Australia. To represent my family and that jersey I put on, it means everything.
“I go out there every week, be happy and try to enjoy the best footy I can. It’s a great opportunity for myself this year too.”
Despite only being 19, Nanai has already scored 18 tries in 27 NRL games for the Cowboys. He played in all three of Queensland’s Origin games this year and topped his year off by being selected in Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos squad.
“I’m still learning, I’m still young. I’m trying to progress into the big league,” Nanai added.
“There’s a lot of great players out there, we’ve got Angus Crichton and Liam Martin who had great years too, we are all trying to fight for a spot and at the end of the day, it comes down to who is working harder and who performs well.”
Australia face Lebanon in the quarter-finals of the World Cup at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield on Friday night.
The Kangaroos flew through Group B with ease, having scored almost 200 points in total against Fiji, Scotland and Italy.