Wests Tigers star Jamal Idris opens up on future after season-ending ACL injury



  • Wests Tigers star Jamal Idris opens up on future after season-ending ACL injury
    Adrian Proszenko - SMH

    Jamal Idris is off contract and on crutches.

    Idris has previously proven these obstacles are not insurmountable but, having hauled himself back into the NRL after a long sabbatical, there are fresh questions over whether he will have the desire to do so again. Whether his latest season-ending ACL injury will also be a career-ending one? If the giant centre, having once walked away from the greatest game of all, will do so again?

    Idris leans in, looks you in the eye and leaves you in no doubt about what his future holds.

    “You want to talk about obstacles?” Idris offers.

    "The biggest obstacle was when I did my ACL, took a year off and travelled. That’s two years off right there. And then I came back, not knowing if I still had it. I came back to the NRL and slid straight in.

    "I’d done the hard work. That’s an obstacle.

    "Especially after my nan and pop and uncle died within three months of each other. They’re obstacles. This is not an obstacle.

    “This is a challenge. A bit of fun.”

    It’s not to say there haven’t been dark days. Idris returned to the NRL this season after taking a “gap year” to discover the world and himself. When he ran out for Wests Tigers in a trial during the off-season, it was his first game of professional football in 672 days. He subsequently made five first-grade appearances in the black, white and orange, showing glimpses of the form that earned him NSW and Australian honours. But just as he was warming to his work, his knee gave way again.

    Armed with a new perspective on life after his backpacking odyssey, in which he traversed 12 countries in as many months, Idris believes he is better equipped to deal with the “isolation” and “white noise” that goes with yet another stint in the rehab group.

    “The last time I went down this path, there was a lot more going wrong in my life,” Idris explains.

    "I say ‘in my life’, but it’s stuff in other people’s lives that went wrong and affected me because I love them so much.

    "At the moment I’m seeing a lot more positives than negatives than before.

    "It is heartbreaking. Your mind says yes, you’ve only started to warm up and getting back into it. The last few games, I’d been playing well and that was just building up after two years off.

    "I was like, ‘sweet, let’s put the throttles down and go for it’ and then this happens.

    "From when I’ve travelled, I was lucky enough to learn about myself and live with white noise. This is a different type of isolation, a different type of head noise.

    “All the little things I’ve learned in my travels will help me through that process.”

    Nobody saw Idris’ layoff coming. Even the man himself was in denial. News of the season-ending ACL injury came a day after the former Bulldogs, Titans and Panthers star attended a media opportunity to help spruik the NRL’s Indigenous round. He spoke of his hope of taking on South Sydney that weekend, clinging to the slim chance the injury wasn’t as bad as the initial prognosis. The next day he got the news he was dreading.

    It’s only after learning about Idris’ family history that you realise why he was so keen to play that weekend.

    “Indigenous round, that’s massive for my pop, he’s from the stolen generation,” Idris explains.

    "That burns in me, that game you want to play.

    “Before my pop died, we sat in my mum’s backyard and he goes: ‘You know the worst thing that ever happened to me? I’ve been to a lot of different prisons, a lot of different jails, I’ve spent more time in jail than out of it throughout my life. The worst thing was when they took me from Kinchela Boys Home. That’s the worst because they institutionalised me. Worse than any prison. You would get out and think you could survive or even thrive in this world you know nothing about.’”

    The Kinchela Boys Home, run by the NSW government up until 1970, housed Aboriginal boys forcibly removed from their families. The children, referred to by number rather than name, were the victims of physical, psychological and cultural abuse. Idris’ pop was known only as “number nine”.

    It is part of the reason why Idris’ All Stars and Indigenous round jerseys mean more to him than his Blues and Kangaroos jumpers.

    “No one wants to hear about the history of Australia because it hurts them,” Idris says.

    "Well, I’m sorry if it hurts you to hear about it, but I’ve grown up with it. My grandfather lived it. That’s why rounds like that mean so much, because of how much my family means to me.

    “We got to the point where, as soon as they passed, I couldn’t handle it any more. So I left.”

    Aspects of Australia’s history make for uncomfortable conversations, but Idris doesn’t shy away from them.

    “People don’t realise that it was only in 1967 that Aboriginals were classed as Australian citizens. 1967!” he says.

    "In the mid-70s they were still talking about poisoning the water they give to Aboriginals to sterilise them. It’s 1970! You’re kidding me. And people still have the audacity to sit there and say to someone like me that racism doesn’t exist in Australia.

    "One hundred per cent it does, you still encounter it. Me even saying that will make people upset because they’ll say ‘no, there’s no racism in Australia’.

    "But who are you saying it to. I’m sorry, I live it and it’s different. You may not feel it, but I feel it.

    “People like to play dumb, ignorance is bliss. But I’ll be honest, I’ll say it as I see it.”

    Idris lost three of his closest family members around the time he did his ACL at Penrith. He is leaning on those who remain to help him get through the latest setback.

    Wests Tigers also are playing their part. The journeyman three-quarter made particular mention of chief executive Justin Pascoe, coach Ivan Cleary, head of football Kelly Egan and physio Peter Moussa for constantly checking in on his welfare.

    “People think I’m upset if they want to walk out of my life,” Idris says. "I’ve had people in my life that I’ve lost, that didn’t want to leave and I’m still OK.

    “I’ve lost things that I’ve never wanted to lose and I’m still here. I’m still OK.”



  • Wish him all the best.
    Never know what the future will bring.
    Hopefully he is able to make it back onto the field, and he is the one who determines when it’s time to stop playing, not an injury.



  • i am sorry for his injury , but gee iam sick of people wanting to live in the past and wanting everyone to feel sorry for them, none of us were around back then and we had no input in what happened. its like me going on about my past family in ireland when the poms killed and starved thousands, i dont blame the present day poms they were not around then. no wonder this world is so broken all some races want to do is carry conflicts till the end of time. we will never be one people while we continue to pander to these people.



  • What a great article, I had know idea about Idris’s background. I knew he was a different type of footballer and a character of many layers but I didn’t know much more than that. These type of articles brings more interest to the NRL then just looking at the numbers on the players backs and the typical post match interviews.
    I’m liking the way the NRL and the WTs are becoming more engaging to fans. The Pascoe&Cleary Q&A’s have been great as well. The NRL channel on Fox can be good (and bad) but at least it’s there and creates more content around the game.



  • @:

    i am sorry for his injury , but gee iam sick of people wanting to live in the past and wanting everyone to feel sorry for them, none of us were around back then and we had no input in what happened. its like me going on about my past family in ireland when the poms killed and starved thousands, i dont blame the present day poms they were not around then. no wonder this world is so broken all some races want to do is carry conflicts till the end of time. we will never be one people while we continue to pander to these people.

    I know there is a lot of passion between Ireland and England but sometimes (for people like me who have little understanding of it) …it’s good to hear some info and become more aware of history. I quite like the background stories.


  • Banned

    Cut him free he go join Joe Williams.



  • There was some terrible things happened in our past…. Many don’t like it and don’t acknowledge it.
    Truth hurts



  • Yes there were some terrible things that happened in our past but as long as we keep regurgitating them we’ll never move on to a better future, the human race has a tendency to keep drowning itself in it’s own failures and taking their frustration and anger out on those who had nothing to do with it and actually sympathise with them.

    The modern day white Australian may not totally understand what some indigenous folk went through but we understand its a blight on us as a people and it’s unfair to lay the blame on people for what their great grandparents may have done. At some point the past has to become just that, the past.



  • @:

    There was some terrible things happened in our past…. Many don’t like it and don’t acknowledge it.
    Truth hurts

    what truth hurts innsaneink, yes we all know it happened, but none of us were hear to stop it or for that matter had bugger all to do with it. the longer people want to blame someone for what happen before they were born is rubbish. the NRL the AFL need to stop these indigenous rounds or we will never have a country for every one it will always be divided.



  • Does anyone know if wests tigers will offer Jamal a contract for next season ?


  • Banned

    I’m still waiting on Denmark to issue an apology for raping and pillaging my ancestors village 1000 years ago. I find it hard to go on everyday being a victim that I am. However, baby steps, I wake up every morning and put one foot in front of the other. It’s pretty hard sometimes being the victim that I am, did I mention that already? It was nothing directed against me personally and has nothing at all to do with society today but ya know it was only 1000 years ago, people need to hear and understand this. Victims from generations ago need to be brought up today. Identity politics and victim cards need to be played. I have no personal agency, I find it hard to take responsibility for my own actions sometimes because ya know, I’m a victim through my ancestors.

    “Wears Tigers star Jamal Idris…”
    Jeez the word “star” gets used pretty loosely these days.



  • This x 10000


  • Banned

    @:

    There was some terrible things happened in our past…. Many don’t like it and don’t acknowledge it.
    Truth hurts

    Theres terrible things happened in everyones past. I dont see your crocodile tears for them you pathetic little sook.



  • @:

    i am sorry for his injury , but gee iam sick of people wanting to live in the past and wanting everyone to feel sorry for them, none of us were around back then and we had no input in what happened. its like me going on about my past family in ireland when the poms killed and starved thousands, i dont blame the present day poms they were not around then. no wonder this world is so broken all some races want to do is carry conflicts till the end of time. we will never be one people while we continue to pander to these people.

    Good post. 100% agree with you there



  • @:

    Does anyone know if wests tigers will offer Jamal a contract for next season ?

    Hopefully not. He’s a bust


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