Felise learning from NRL experience
Wed 25th May, 01:17PM
Wests Tigers young gun JJ Felise says he’s learning plenty from his time in first-grade as he prepares for his fourth career game this Friday against the Broncos.
Hailing originally from Queensland, Felise was an integral part of the Club’s Holden Cup side over the past 18 months before getting his call-up to the NRL squad in Round 7. From there, the powerful young prop made three appearances before featuring in the Junior Kangaroos team, and says it’s those experiences that allowed him to learn lots as a footballer.
“The three games I got, I think that’s helped me a lot,” Felise said.
"The big bodies and pace of the game — I think I’ve adapted to it okay but I’m still learning.
"I’m loving every minute of it.
"I’ve been reminded again of just how tough this game is. You’ve just got to keep moving in defence, and you can’t relax anywhere on the field. The quality of players in the NRL is so high that you just can’t switch off because they’ll make you pay.
“But it’s been really enjoyable and I’m looking forward to it again this week.”
IT is not often the Broncos let a Brisbane teen prodigy slip through their fingers.
But JJ Felise was one player who rejected a couple of late advances from his hometown club so he could try his luck 900km away with the Wests Tigers.
On Friday night, Felise will return home to play at Suncorp Stadium as the Tigers try to spring a good old-fashioned Friday night upset.
Felise, a Keebra Park High graduate — the same school which developed former Tigers premiership pin-up Benji Marshall, Corey Norman, Sam Moa, Greg Eastwood, and Te Maire Martin — said he was approached by the Broncos more than once but always wanted to repay the faith shown by the joint-venture club.
“The Broncos offered me something later on when I was 16 and 17, but my mum said to stay loyal to the Tigers,’’ Felise said.
“They had been loyal to me from day one by helping me pay my school fees at Keebra, so I stayed with them.
“I remember finishing school on a Friday, came to Sydney on a Sunday and I started pre-season training on the Monday.
“Last year I played 20s, and when I was about to get a crack at the NSW Cup I did my ankle. This year I’m hoping to remain injury free.
“I’ve been given a chance to play first grade, and I’m loving every opportunity I get.’’
JJ Felise at Wests Tigers training. Picture: Craig Greenhill
JJ Felise at Wests Tigers training. Picture: Craig GreenhillSource:News Corp Australia
Felise, 20, has played four games off the bench and will look to make an impact again against some tiring bodies on Friday night. He is not overly tall for a front-rower but is deceptively heavy at 112kg.
Some at the club have accused him of being too nice, especially for a prop.
Fellow prop Tim Grant praised Felise for his approach to the game, and noted the youngster “played beyond his years’’.
“One thing that stands out about JJ is how he’s really humble, which is a bit of a lost quality amongst the younger guys these days,’’ Grant said.
“He asks a lot of questions and always works hard. I strongly believe he will be a great prospect for the club.
“He’s powerful and the thing I like about him is that once he’s tired, he talks more and keeps moving.’’
Without Aaron Woods, Grant, Ava Seumanufagai, Sauaso Sue and Felise will have the job of charging the ball up against the Origin-depleted Broncos forward pack.
JJ Felise and Tim Grant, Wests Tigers training at Concord Oval, picture Craig Greenhill
JJ Felise and Tim Grant, Wests Tigers training at Concord Oval, picture Craig GreenhillSource:News Corp Australia
Grant praised Blues prop Woods for teaching him how to strike the right balance between rugby league and life.
“He’s the best prop in the game at the moment, he’s world class,’’ Grant said.
“He has big shoes to fill and we’ll have to step up on Friday.
“Aside from his playing ability, which is second to none, he also brings a calmness to everyone. To Woodsy, it’s just footy. He loves playing footy. Nothing fazes him.
“I was a stress-head, but after working with him, it’s settled me down a bit.
“And I’ve learned to have more of a balance and relax.’’
Just shows the class of him and his family.
But I have to say its sad that someone being loyal is so rare it makes the news.