June 16, 2024

The guy lined up opposite Jarrod Croker on Friday will be experiencing the rush of emotions that come with hearing the opening whistle of an NRL match for the 300th time, but that unique feeling will be entirely new to him.

Teams - Warriors | NSWRL

After Josh Morris, the Raiders captain is now the only other specialty center to have a triple century of games. However, Ali Leiataua, a rookie for the Warriors, will make his debut in 2023, making him the 39th player overall.

It’s going to be a big night in Canberra, and some rookies may find it too much to take, but Leiataua has proven on the rugby league field that he is capable of handling far more difficult situations.

South Island player Christian Pese collapsed in the final minutes of a national U-20 match versus Auckland in Christchurch in March 2021 due to a stroke.

Aged barely 18 at the time, Leiataua – who despite lining up opposite him that day was good friends with Pese from their time together at King’s College in Auckland – was the first person to respond and sat with his companion as medical officials cared to him on the field.

As soon as it became apparent how critical Pese’s situation was, physicians put him into a medically induced coma and underwent a difficult treatment to remove brain swelling, which at the time they weren’t sure he would survive.

Leiataua stayed by Pese’s side for the next week, trying his best to help family members as they arrived in Christchurch, after the rest of his teammates took out for Auckland.

“I remember Ali being the first person I saw when I came to on the field.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *