Kurtis Rowe making his own name but remembering another

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Kurtis Rowe making his own name but remembering another

Post by willow » Sat 12 Apr, 2014 6:07 am

Wests Tigers debutant Kurtis Rowe making his own name but remembering another

April 12, 2014 - 1:21AM
Adrian Proszenko
Chief Rugby League Reporter

When Kurtis Rowe runs onto Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday for his NRL debut, he will think of all of the people who helped him get there.

There's his parents, Greg and Deanna, who uprooted their lives in Taranaki, New Zealand, so Rowe could pursue his sporting dream. His girlfriend, Jess, who he describes as integral to any of his success during the past two years.
Sorely missed: The late Mosese Fotuaika.

And then he will look down at the name written on the strapping of his wrist. Mosese Fotuaika. Like Rowe, Fotuaika came via New Zealand and Keebra Park High with dreams of making his first-grade debut for Wests Tigers.Tragically, Fotuaika never fulfilled the ambition. Last February Fotuaika was found dead in his Merrylands townhouse, only hours after suffering a serious pectoral injury in the Concord gymnasium. The death was not treated as suspicious.

The incident rocked the club but no one was affected more than Rowe, his flatmate at the time. It's why Fotuaika will be at the forefront of Rowe's mind on the biggest day of his professional life.

"Definitely, this season I've had him written on my wrist when I run out," Rowe told Fairfax Media. "I was thankful he took me in so I could live with him at the start of last year. He's a big part of my life.

"We're really tight, I want to school with him. He was a father figure almost, always looking out for the young boys who came out from Keebra.

"He always led with his actions on the field. He was awesome."

Another key figure in Rowe's rise is his girlfriend, Jess. Like most of these meetings, theirs was a chance one. Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl tries to sell car to boy.

"I met Jess when I was about 19," he said of his girlfriend, who is studying theology and history at the Australian Catholic University with a view to teaching.

"She's a really smart cookie. I was going to buy a car off her. The car was a bomb. A little Mazda thing that was too small, I couldn't even put my big toe in it."

"It wasn't for me," he added with a chuckle. "But I kept her number."

Now has has the No.1 on his back. Like the man he is replacing, the injured James Tedesco, Rowe is a genuine speedster who can find the line. He did just that on 38 occasions from 45 games in the National Youth Competition, earning a taste of the big time during the inaugural Auckland Nines tournament.

The former Waitara Bear moved from New Zealand in his teens, caught the eye of good judges with dazzling feats for Keebra Park High School, represented the Junior Kiwis and the Australian Schoolboys en route to becoming a Tiger. Sound familiar?

"He was a perfect example of how I want to turn out," Rowe said of Benji Marshall.

"I was actually watching Australia-New Zealand when I first saw which school he went to and how the Tigers picked him up. I thought that was the easiest route for me to take and he was an inspiration in my life when I was young."

Rowe has never had to look far for inspiration. His parents, Greg and Deanna, realised their son's potential and moved across the ditch to ensure it was fulfilled. Rowe excelled at athletics, swimming, touch football, basketball, union and league but chose the latter because it was the sport his father played.

"I found out [about selection] on Monday when [coach] Mick [Potter] came up and told me the good news," he said.

"He asked me if I was ready and I said, 'Yeah, I'm ready'. The first person I called was my mum, she was over the moon. Mum and dad basically made the move over to Australia for me to pursue my rugby league career."

Should he progress further still, Rowe will have to choose between representing Australia or New Zealand. For the 20-year-old, it is no choice at all.

"I'm always proud to wear the black and white," he said.

"I'd choose that all the time. I'm so proud to be a Kiwi, I'll stay loyal to the country."

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