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Brendan Piakura: ‘Living the dream, that is for sure’

Wednesday 29 May 2024 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in League, Sports

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Brendan Piakura: ‘Living  the dream, that is for sure’
Brendan Piakura at training. Photo: Erick Lucero/QRL/24052807

Cook Islander Brendan Piakura is still pinching himself after getting a call from Queensland Maroons coach Billy Slater to join camp ahead of State of Origin Game I.

The 22-year-old Brisbane Broncos second rower was at home planning a golf day for Monday when he got the call to tell him he would be named.

“Pretty exciting ... still pinching myself that I got the call,” Piakura said.

“I actually didn’t pick up the phone call. I let it ring out because I didn’t have his number saved.

“I called him back. Just crazy to get a call from Billy Slater, one of the best players to play the game. I’m still starstruck. This is where I’ve wanted to be and now, I’m here.

“Just grateful to be here. Speechless, actually. Before I got the call I was organising a golf day for Monday. This is way better.

“Best news to tell your parents and family. Grateful.”

Piakura’s mum, Kate Ioaba-Piakura, yesterday told Cook Islands News that they were proud of Brendan.

“What an achievement. So over the moon for him to experience the pinnacle of rugby league. He’s 19th man which means he’s there for the experience this time. Anything can happen, learning from the best in the business is more than enough,” Ioaba-Piakura said.

“He hasn’t been able to sleep. Keeps pinching himself that he is around the masters of Queensland!

“Ernie (Ernest) and I are so very proud of Brendan. His bucket list of goals are slowly but surely getting ticked off. He has worked so hard and will forever support him along his journey of dreams.

“He loves his country and he always represents all of us. The 15 stars. He also did him up some indigenous boots. He said please put 15 stars there and 682.”

Cook Islands Rugby League president Charles Carlson congratulated Piakura on his selection.

“It is an excellent achievement by Brendan and congratulations for being selected at this stage of his career. No doubt Brendan has always been destined for the big stage since playing for the Australian Schoolboys 2019 with fellow teammate Reece Welsh against the Junior Kiwis featuring fellow Cook Islander Kayal Iro,” Carlson said.

“He was selected for the Cook Islands World Cup 2021 squad and has excelled since in securing his position with the Broncos to now making the Queensland State of Origin squad.”

Rugby league for Piakura started at Helensvale Hornets at the Gold Coast and he was part of the 2019 Tweed Seagulls side that won the Mal Meninga Cup grand final; a side that included fellow Maroons squad members Reece Walsh and Xavier Coates.

He has also represented Queensland in the under 16 and 18 age groups, Australian schoolboys and played for Norths Devils in the Hostplus Cup, including in their 2022 grand final win.

“Helensvale Hornets at the Gold Coast, that’s where I started around five, six.... went through that club ... kept on playing, stuck at it and here we are,” Piakura said.

“JT was my favourite player growing up ... he really wore his heart on his sleeve and he wasn’t the biggest body but you could always tell he was what Queensland is all about ... that’s what I loved about watching him and Queensland play.”

Piakura, who made his NRL debut for the Broncos against Cronulla in 2021 and has since played 23 NRL games, including last year’s grand final, said he was blown away to now be in Maroons camp, surrounded by the greats of the game including Johnathan Thurston.

“All your idols, all in one place, one team ... that’s why Queensland is the best,” Piakura said, adding to one day don a Maroons jersey would be a dream.

“One of my biggest dreams is to play for this state and put on that Maroons jersey. I would be so over the moon ... it’s the pinnacle of footy in my eyes.

“I would love to put on that jersey one day.”
Being named in the squad has not come without hard work for Piakura, who has overcome injury and been in fine form for the Broncos.

“Lots of hard work throughout the pre-season, start of the season ... few injuries start of the season but stuck at it,” Piakura said.

“I know that my best footy is still ahead of me ... I haven’t touched my potential yet so I’m just excited for what the future will bring.”

This week, Piakura is keen to soak up the Maroons camp experience and learn as much as he can.

“A lot of brains I’d love to pick from this squad and definitely from the coaching staff. So much footy knowledge everywhere ... it’s exciting,” Piakura said.

“Living the dream, that is for sure.”

  • Jorja Brinums (QRL content producer)/RK