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From the backyard to the SCG: Kobe carries on family tradition

'I'm in'!

It was the simple text message that brought back all the emotions and an immediate sense of pride for former Maroons and Bulldogs hooker Jason Hetherington. 

Hetherington's son Kobe had just received the news he'd be making his NRL debut for the Broncos against the Roosters at the SCG, almost two decades after Jason had hung up the boots after a stint in Super League.

Hard at work driving his truck in rural Queensland, Jason started to reminisce about the days he'd come home from work to find Kobe and twin brother Zac in his Bulldogs and Maroons jerseys battling it out in the backyard.

Right in the thick of the action was Jason - no stranger to a bit of biff in his playing days - as a referee.

"I'd have to separate them all the time," Hetherington told

"I'd send one to the sin-bin until they cooled down and came back.

"When Zac blew a lid you'd just have to turn the floodlights off and go in for dinner.

"Kobe wasn't as bad but they both had their turns, they were full-on State of Origin and grand final intensity every time."

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The Hetherington family has had a long association with rugby league dating back to Jason's distinguished career but with that has come an expectation on his sons to reach first grade.

"I've seen it along their journey, the last name can sometimes bring a hindrance or scrutiny from a young age," he said.

"People won't admit it but they do compare. I think 'Kobes' has got similar traits in his character but very different to me.

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"He's just paving his own way. I'm just proud of him. It hasn't all been smooth sailing. Behind closed doors, there's been some conversations, directions and advice.

"I always felt with his hard work ethic and the way he conducts himself that the opportunity may be there at some point.

"But he's the perfect example that hard work goes past talent and he's worked his guts out for the last four years.

"Both the boys were good in their own right but they weren't big early mature schoolboy kids like we see now.

"But they've got the right attributes that suit the game. Kobe is pretty intense. He wants things to happen quickly like most young blokes these days so he trains and works that way.

"To his credit, his character has stayed strong and he's remained focused so the rewards are now this weekend.

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"He does all those character things right so that's a big part of his success.

"But as a parent, you just don't know if he'd ever get there. All I could do was support or encourage him."

The Hetherington clan will fly to Sydney and watch Kobe do his thing at the SCG, right next door to where Jason played in two grand finals for the Bulldogs at the SFS.

Hetherington also has confidence in Broncos coach Kevin Walters in turning the club's latest woes around.

"He'll bring some energy and everything you'd expect for your first game," Hetherington said of Kobe.

"The speed will probably take him by surprise. We just can't thank the Broncos enough for organising to have us watch him this week.

"We're going to saviour the moment just as much as he does. Kobe says the atmosphere is great and Kevvie builds a great environment to be in.

"The Broncos have always been a strong club and will bounce back but it will take a bit of time."


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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