Hamiso Tabuai–Fidow is a proud Indigenous lad from Cairns, and a fullback to boot, so it is no surprise being coached this year by Matthew Bowen rocked his world.
Tabuai-Fidow will line up with the Queensland Under 18 side against New South Wales at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night after playing under Bowen this year in the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup competition for the Townsville Blackhawks.
The 17-year-old has won a new North Queensland Cowboys deal after moving from Cairns to Townsville at the start of the year to play under Bowen and develop his game.
"It is really good to be coached by Matty Bowen because I looked up to him when he was at the Cowboys - as a player and a role model," Tabuai-Fidow said.
"It has been a pleasure to play under him as a coach. He’s chilled and really laid back. When he played he was just so fast. With his speed he could score a try out of nothing and I’d love to be like that.
"He is a fullback and I am a fullback and he has really helped me with what I need to do at the back directing boys, off the ball and running lines. I have heaps of respect for him."
When it comes to pace, Bowen had plenty of it. His protégé is not lacking in that department either.
"I have been timed once over 100m and I did it in 10.85 seconds,” Tabuai-Fidow said.
It is no wonder that the Cowboys have snapped up Tabuai-Fidow long-term. A try scoring whiz, last year he scored five in a club game for Cairns Brothers.
He is set to train next year with the Cowboys full-time and fulfil a childhood dream.
"The Cowboys are the club I have always wanted to play with because they were so close to home and I have signed with them for another three years, until the end of 2022," Tabuai-Fidow said.
"I just re-signed and that gave me a lot of confidence and made me eager to keep working hard to get to the NRL one day.
"I sat down with the Cowboys (recruitment boss) Clint Zammit and he explained what the next couple of years will be for me. I go full-time as a development player next year and I am pretty keen for that.
"I am looking forward to training with guys like Michael Morgan. With his leadership, hopefully he can help me.
"Johnathan Thurston and Matty Bowen are Indigenous and I saw what the club did for them. I want that to happen for me as well.
"JT is a big role model for us Indigenous boys. I’ve never met him, but I hope to meet him soon."
Tabuai-Fidow attends Kirwan State High School in Townsville and said he was thriving at a school known for producing Cowboys stars.
"Jason Taumalolo, Nene Macdonald and Gideon Gela-Mosby all went there too so it is known for having great rugby league players,” Tabuai-Fidow said.
The Queensland Under 18 custodian can't wait for Wednesday night to roll around and he will be following half Sam Walker around the same way Bowen was always in support of Thurston.
"This is my first time playing at Suncorp Stadium. I am looking forward to playing with all these Queensland boys. I can’t wait," Tabuai-Fidow said.
"The way (halfback) Sam Walker plays I am going to be following him around. I am pretty keen to play beside him."
Match: QLD U18s v NSW U18s
Round 1 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane