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Vinjenzo doing the Winterstein name proud

The rugby league baton has been passed from one famous Winterstein to the other in recent decades and Queensland Under 17 Country flyer Vinjenzo 'VJ' Winterstein is the next in line.

Vinjenzo is doing his family name proud as he follows in the footsteps of other highly regarded Wintersteins who have graced the sporting arena.

His older brother Antonio, who won the 2015 premiership with the North Queensland Cowboys, is just one of them.

"Vinjenzo and I represent a name that stretches all the way throughout the South Pacific and New Zealand and we are caregivers of that last name," Antonio said.

"My father Vincent played for the Western Samoa rugby league team in the Pacific Cup and put the Winterstein name on the map and he was able hand that baton off to his children.

"This is Vinjenzo's opportunity to do the last name proud and he is doing that, not only through his football, but his schooling as well, which was the main reason for him to move up here to Townsville.

"Luckily he had the talent to get into these representative teams and the Kirwan [State High] Bears side."

Vinjenzo, 16, will take on the Queensland Under 17 City side on Saturday after a strong season with Kirwan State High in the Aaron Payne Cup. 

"I was stoked when I got picked for Country. I'm not sure what position I will be in the team but I usually play winger or fullback," Vinjenzo said.

"I am really excited to get out there. I always went to my older brother's games when I was younger and it made me want to follow in his footsteps. When he was at the Brisbane Broncos I'd get tickets and watch him.

"Then when the Cowboys won the title I was in the grandstand watching with the family. I remember that night like it was yesterday.

"He has been a big inspiration to me. We had a big backyard and when we had a family gatherings all the cousins would come around and play."

Vinjenzo, who also plays club football for Norths in Townsville, said he had learned plenty this year off his Kirwan coaches Nathan Norford and Todd Wilson.

He has moulded his game on former New Zealand Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, and his brother of course.

"I just love Roger's footwork and the way he carries himself throughout his games," Vinjenzo said.

"My brother was one of my favourite players. The coaches used to tell me he was one of the toughest players out there. He always did his job."

Antonio is now right behind his younger brother to make sure he fulfils his potential.

"Getting selection in a representative team is always a bonus and we are very proud as a family," Antonio said.

QLD City v QLD Country - Under 17 Boys

"He has come a long way from a small skinny to how he has built himself up and he has worked extremely hard to get to where he is.

"There is a big age difference, but when I made my NRL debut at the Broncos he was old enough to be part of my career, so it is only natural he would take it on as a passion.

"He was brought up around rugby league with myself and my father being so involved in rugby league. He caught the bug so I have the privilege of passing the baton off to him."

Antonio said his brother had "great support" from the Kirwan Bears and their rugby league academy, and from the Winterstein family.

"He is involved in the Cowboys academy system as well so he has the right support around him to be able to prepare physically," Antonio said.

"Where I come into the picture is how I can support him and prepare him mentally to cope with the pressure and stresses that come with it.

"Vinjenzo lives with me, my wife and four daughters, so he has the pleasure of being a role model to his nieces. Everyone calls him 'Jenzo'."


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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