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PNG flavour inspiring Brisbane in semi-final battle

There are two very different sides to Dilbert Issac and his teammates appreciate them in equal measure.

On the field he is the ultimate competitor anyone would be lucky to run out alongside. Those in the Brisbane representative side who usually have to deal with him in the BRL are breathing a sigh of relief this time he's on their side.

But the Papua New Guinean prop, as his Brisbane and Brighton teammate Jarrett Boland can attest, is the kindest soul off the field, who loves talking about footy and his young family.

"He's a prime example of Jekyll and Hyde. On the field, he's the big tough No.8 that, you know, it's impossible to put him on his back and he works hard for it and does everything like that," Boland said of Issac.

"But then off the field he's kind and he's caring and... he's a pleasure to be around.

"He's an asset to any team. He's just a real good mate to have.

"There's always a new story with him.

Dilbert Issac hits it up into the Gold Coast defensive line playing for Brisbane Red in the 2023 XXXX Chairman's Challenge. Photo: Vanessa Hafner/QRL
Dilbert Issac hits it up into the Gold Coast defensive line playing for Brisbane Red in the 2023 XXXX Chairman's Challenge. Photo: Vanessa Hafner/QRL

"He's still got his family over there - wife, kids, mum, dad - but in terms of just stories of how they used to play barefoot, playing for the Hunters, playing for the Kumuls, playing on an international stage and then coming over to Australia for more opportunities, mate, he's an open book.

"I don't remember the exact age but, you know, he spent the vast majority of his footy career without footy boots playing up in the mountains.

"To come here and the opportunities that we have, that we almost take for granted, there's just a sense of gratitude when you hear his stories and how happy he is just to be here and knowing he'll be alongside you, playing for Brisbane, he's obviously looking to the future too."

The XXXX League Championship is a chance for all players to impress and gain a run a in Hostplus Cup, with both Issac and Boland entrenched in the Redcliffe Dolphins system.

"Opportunities arise, they'll come about when we all chip in. It's not a me thing, it's not a Dilbert thing, it's a team thing," Boland said.

"So when we all play well together, we all get good opportunities."

And he said despite limited training sessions together, there has never been a feeling of "a bunch of blokes put together".

The connection showed in the triumph of the XXXX Chairman's Challenge in Ipswich and their growth through it has translated into strong performances at their clubs.

Boland knows this has to continue coming up against a strong rugby league area in Toowoomba, and on their home turf at Clive Berghofer Stadium.

"There's a real level of excitement and you can tell because just the level of the BRL lately has been great and it's just that level of boys from those good teams all coming together, and we had a really good comp at Ipswich," he said.

Brisbane Red coach Darren Ferricks. Photo: Vanessa Hafner/QRL
Brisbane Red coach Darren Ferricks. Photo: Vanessa Hafner/QRL

"You could tell even then we had a really good connection and a really good feel even with our limited training sessions. We just clicked early. It just felt like a team straight away."

Brisbane Red coach Darren Ferricks said Issac and Boland would be a “huge” part of the success if they were to reach the XXXX League Championship final.

“We've got to obviously dominate that middle third and (Issac) is a big part of that, taking us forward and I think that's where the game's going to be won, in the middle third, attacking wise and defending wise," he said.

The Brisbane Red side is set to be finalised today, with replacements being sought for XXXX Chairman's Challenge winning squad members Samson Graham and Luke Maddaford, who are unavailable for selection.

Watch Brisbane Red v Toowoomba Clydesdales live on this Saturday from 3pm.

Main image: Dilbert Issac (right) watches on during the 2023 XXXX Chairman's Challenge. Photo: Vanessa Hafner/QRL

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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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