Courtesy of the official Wests Tigers website:
Gavet brothers team up at Wests Tigers
Thursday 30 January 2014 9:20 AM
Gavet brothers team up at Wests Tigers
While the 2013 season may not have gone the way James Gavet would have wanted, the recruitment of his younger brother Lokeni to the Club might just be the inspiration the prop forward needs as he pushes for a place in the NRL side.
After moving from Canterbury to the Wests Tigers last season, Gavet suffered a devastating injury on the eve of the first NRL trial match, which in-turn impacted his year significantly.
“It was actually a freak accident, I was playing a bit of sport at home and I ended up doing a lisfranc injury, which is a dislocation in the foot,” Gavet said.
“It put me out for six months, which was the long haul. It was really tough to get back into the groove after having what I thought to be a successful pre-season.”
Finally making his return from injury in Round 17 with the NSW Cup side, the New Zealand-born front rower played the remainder of the year with the reserve grade team.
Now in the midst of his second pre-season under NRL Coach Mick Potter, Gavet is fighting hard to earn his first top grade match with the Wests Tigers and will look to his younger brother to help keep him motivated.
A member of the Parramatta SG Ball side last season, Lokeni has followed his brother to the Wests Tigers and will be part of the Under 20s squad for 2014.
“We grew up really close together, I was almost like a third parent to him,” Gavet said.
“He is about three inches taller than me though and he hasn’t quite filled out just yet; I’ve got the feeling that I’m going to be a lot smaller than him.
“It’s just good to have someone who makes me feel close to home while I’m away from home.”
Gavet has taken his little brother under his wing, with the pair living with one another and often spending their free time together between training sessions at Concord Oval.
“It’s only the beginning and a dream of ours is to one day play alongside each other,” Gavet said. “The only way to do that is to complement each other, not only on the field but at home and to keep the bad habits away.”
Although Lokeni may not have played prop forward before, the towering 19-year-old looks destined to follow in the footsteps of his brother with a move into the engine room this year.
“Growing up I was playing centre and then moved into the second row recently. Webby (NYC Coach Andrew Webster) wants to see me in the front row,” Lokeni said. “I think part of it is due to what James has been teaching me and I’m looking forward to it.”
“James has contributed a lot, probably the majority of my game. He is the reason why I am playing footy (Rugby League), before this I was playing Rugby Union back over in New Zealand.
“Ever since I started playing League I have loved it and have wanted to chase the (NRL) dream.”
While Gavet’s brother is helping him adjust to life in Sydney, back home in Auckland the bulky prop has plenty people backing him to succeed.
“My fiancé, Christie is in Auckland as well as my son to my previous relationship, James Junior or JJ,” Gavet said.
“JJ will be five soon and he knows his Dad plays for the Wests Tigers; he has started playing a bit of footy himself.
“My Mum and Dad are also back in Auckland, they are really proud Samoan parents and the church back home is really proud too.
“I wake up some days on the wrong side of the bed but people like that always give you that drive on an off day.”
With a strong prop rotation amongst the Wests Tigers squad, competition for NRL positions is tough and Gavet will look to impress in the upcoming trial matches starting a Camden next Saturday against Penrith.
“Obviously you are always going to aspire to play first grade, week in-week out. I think there is about nine or so other front rowers, so it’s going to be very competitive,” Gavet said.
“It’s good to have competition there because you better yourself and it’s good for the team as well.
“It has been a good pre-season so far and the team has been gelling well. It’s a real good feel around the Club this year, I’ve got a good feeling about it.”
Nice article, thanks Willow.
One small point of correction though, it’s common knowledge that James was Sydney-born, NZ-raised!
James has been plagued by injury over the past couple of seasons which is why he’s seen limited NRL time.
BOTH boys are very aggressive on the field; Potter wants that!
Methinks James might be a bolter for the 9s.