Rookie NRL season, maiden start, opening try.
Jamayne Taunoa-Brown’s star showing for the Warriors against St George Illawarra continued a year of remarkable firsts for the young prop – including a debut album in the world of hip-hop music.
A feature of last Saturday’s remarkable 18-0 rout in Gosford was how the pack adapted to the absence of four injured middle forwards.
A significant figure was Taunoa-Brown, who has proven one of the competition’s most important signings for any club given the medical crisis at the Warriors.
Having been invited on a train-and-trial deal over the summer, his performance capped a rapid ascension for the 23-year-old, who conceded he’d “fallen out of love” with rugby league after failing to break into first grade during stints with the Melbourne Storm and Newcastle.
“Towards the back end at Newcastle, I stuffed things up for myself a bit and I found myself back in the local comp. I didn’t think NRL was going to happen for me,” he said.
“I didn’t want to be a labourer the rest of my life. Then I got a bit of a spark playing local footy, so I chased the dream again.”
With the suspended Agnatius Paasi to miss Friday’s match against Penrith in Campbelltown, Taunoa-Brown’s rapid development takes on even more importance for a Warriors team lacking serious depth at prop.
The gifted musician has provided an off-field boost for the Warriors too, with his rapping tracks sometimes the background sound at team gym sessions.
Having toyed with the craft for some time under the pseudonym “Yung Maynie”, he found time to put together a seven-track album titled “Off the Bench” during the NRL’s shutdown in April lockdown.
It has made a small indent with a young fans on streaming websites but Taunoa-Brown isn’t following sales too closely.
“I just do it for fun and whoever hears it, hears it I guess,” he said.