Westfields alumni are a freakish lot
By Adrian Proszenko
What do Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu, Eric Grothe, Feleti Mateo and Israel Folau have in common?
They are all freakish athletes. They are all gamebreakers in today’s grand final qualifier between Parramatta and Melbourne.
And they are all Westfields Sports High students honoured with selection in the school’s best-ever line-up.
The renowned junior nursery has produced two Kangaroos representatives, two Kiwi internationals and 27 first-graders, 18 of
whom played in the NRL this season. While the school is proud of the achievements of all of its students, special mention
was made of the athletic prowess of those playing at Telstra Dome today.
Without a single training session, Hayne took out the gold medal in the national under – 16 championships in the 100 meters
hurdles. “It’s possible for a kid to do well in a sprint without training, but we’re talking about a technical event – this
kid never trained,” marveled Westfields’ athletic director, Dan Suchy. “A mate of his said, “let’s fill out this form and go
to the nationals”. He could have done anything in athletics.
Inu won the state high jump with no preparation. “He’d walk across the basketball court with a football in his hand and dunk
it,” said the school’s director of basketball, Bernie Slattery. “He had great athletic ability but he never took basketball
as seriously as Feleti did.”
Mateo credits his time on the court for his trademark one-handed carries and offloads. “Once you see it come off, it’s a
sweet feeling,” Mateo said.
Asked if Grothe displayed any other sporting talents at school, league coach Wayne Lambkin said: “He liked playing football
and the guitar – he dosen’t seem to have changed much.”
With thanks to
23rd September 2007
The neighbourhood that gave us three superstars
By Josh Massoud
When it comes to rugby league breeding grounds, there’s no more fertile plot.
Far distant from the renowned nurseries that thrive in the shadow of the Blue Mountains or Illawarra escarpment, it sits
among the battlefield of one of south-western Sydney’s most disadvantaged suburbs.
Extending a mere square kilometer east of Minto train station, the narrow triangle of Department of Housing estates and
urban sprawl has given birth to three footy amigos who have set the NRL alight.
Just a short stroll separates the childhood homes of Krisnan Inu, Jarryd Hayne and Israel Folau – a
relatively tiny distance that will grow even shorter when the dynamic trio run on to Telstra Dome for Sunday afternoon’s
Melbourne-Parramatta preliminary final.
In an incredible testament to the often maligned suburb, all three are sure to be targeted by the opposition as the major
For the Eels, Hayne 19, and Inu, 20, have formed a freakish combination of breathtaking skill, power and unpredictability
that left the Bulldogs yapping at shadows last week.
For the Storm, 18-year-old Folau is an adolescent personification of the juggernaut Craig Bellamy’s team has evolved into
over the past two seasons.
The trio grew up and played park footy together in Minto until Folau’s family moved to Brisbane five years ago. They also
attended Westfields Sports High, where head coach Wayne Lambkin had the privilege of developing all three.
“I don’t like to get carried away, but all of them showed me qualities that they would make it to first grade,” said
Lambkin, who now oversees Premier League outfit North Sydney.
“But I didn’t think they would crack it this quickly.”
Such is the trio’s dominance over their age bracket, they now boast the past two Dally M Rookie of the Year Awards between
them. Inu is the odd man out, but that probably wouldn’t be the case if he and Folau had not debuted in the same season.
Their shared Mormon faith keeps Folau and Inu in direct contact, along with the fact they also share the same manager,
Almost two months ago, Folau headed back to Sydney and and the pair spent the Saturday night at Moses’s house before attending church together the following morning.
There will only be one winner on the day, but it won’t surprise if all three are laughing when they walk off.
With thanks to
21st September 2007
There are currently 17 former Westfields Sports students in the NRL
Jarryd Hayne - Eric Grothe|
Israel Folau - Krisnan Inu
Heka Nanai - Liam Fulton
Blake Green - Bryce Gibbs
Chris Armit - Mark Minichello|
Luke O’Donnell - Feleti Mateo
Michael Greenfield - Dene Halatau
Corey Payne - Reece Simmonds