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A close shave for Shibasaki

Gehamat Shibasaki has already had one false start to launching his NRL career with the Brisbane Broncos but he hasn't let that discourage his hopes of following in the footsteps of his Queensland Residents teammate and cousin Jonus Pearson.

Shibasaki only recently discovered Pearson was his cousin.

They get on like a house on fire, helping each other out and improving their games together.

Shibasaki has an unusual pedigree - a mix of Torres Strait Island and Japanese heritage.

He was set to make his NRL debut in round 11 against the Roosters until a late change saw the debut handed to another young hopeful, Kotoni Staggs, who scored a try with almost his first touch.

While it was a disappointing moment for the Townsville 19 year-old, he knows he will get another opportunity if he is patient and continues to impress the coaching staff with his work ethic and attitude.

"I'm no different to anyone else, I want to get noticed and make a name for myself because obviously I want to play NRL," he said.

Playing for the Queensland Residents against the Blues in Sunday's prelude to State of Origin at ANZ Stadium gives him another chance to show what he can do on a big stage.

"I was pretty happy to get selected in my first year of the Intrust Super Cup," he said.

Shibasaki was 16 when he attended his first Origin game.

But he wasn't just a spectator, he played for Queensland in the Under16s curtain raiser.

"I remember watching Origin, it was absolutely amazing, the atmosphere was electric," Gehamat recalled

"From then on I just loved watching it and that eight-year streak was unbelievable."

While he respects all elements of his family's diverse heritage, he mainly abides by Torres Strait culture, including their initiations into manhood.

As he explained to QRL Media, one of those initiations was a shaving ceremony, which signified transforming from a boy to a man.

"You're not allowed shave your facial hair until you are 18 or until considered old enough by your parents. Then your uncles on your mother's side shave you and your beard," he said.

"They're also supposed take young men out hunting but when I moved down to Sydney I missed out on some of those things."

The young Norths Devils centre endured a tough examination last week when he marked up on Tongan tank Konrad Hurrell in an Intrust Super Cup clash against Tweed Heads.

While he was on the losing end, Shibasaki took a lot out of opposing the international, now contracted to the Gold Coast Titans.

"I was pretty nervous before the game because Konrad Hurrell is a pretty big name in the game," Shibasaki said.

"I used to watch him play when I was a bit younger.

"I knew how good he was and how powerful and what he could do."

It goes without saying he is excited about Sunday's big challenge.

"Any time you pull on a Queensland jumper it is very special," he said.

Earlier this year the NRL's new boss Peter Beattie said the game needed to find players within the Asian region to help grow the game further.

With promising Broncos teammate Payne Hass having Filipino heritage, Shibasaki being of Japanese decent and the game growing in places like Thailand and Hong Kong, a combined South East Asian team could certainly pack a punch.

"If they did it would be good, it opens up rugby league around the word," said Shibasaki.

"I guess the opportunity is there (to play) if they do. If it did eventuate I would look into it for sure," he said.

"Playing the NRL and seeing how far I can get is my priority but seeing I am from there I wouldn't mind helping out."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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