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A young gun who had footy taken away from him for 15 months due to injury is now back on the field and aiming high.

Amarni Wetini-Ngaropo was playing in the Gold Coast under 16 competition for Burleigh Juniors in April 2022 when he suffered a fractured tibia and fibula.

The talented half - who had only months before moved from Auckland - had come off a strong season for the Bears in the Cyril Connell Challenge.

Amarni got back on the field at an under 17 Maori rugby league carnival in New Zealand in June, where he was selected for the under 17 Maori team, and has since been training with the Burleigh Bears Colts side.

With such a complex injury, Amarni was hit with setbacks and complications, requiring several surgeries as compartment syndrome - a build up of pressure that blood flowing properly to the affected area - delayed his recovery.

"It was pretty tough, like when it first happened and there was like a lot of challenges I went through, especially just watching all the boys train and I couldn't train," he said.

Through those tough times he had several avenues of support. 

His dad Corey Wetini also suffered a scarily similar injury, meaning he could offer his guidance, while the likes of Tino Fa'asuamaleaui reached out to Amarni to offer his support.

"Tino reached out to me and asked how I'm going, just see how I'm going mentally and stuff and he said he'll be there for me and just to message him if I need him. So that's been pretty good," Amarni said.

Amarni rocking his own threads
Amarni rocking his own threads

Spending time with his footy mates away from the field also helped get him through, while he also started a clothing brand - AWN Fresh - and documenting his journey on his TikTok channel, where he has amassed 40,000 followers.

The social media pursuit was to help inspire others facing similar injury situations, but also attracted so much positive feedback - a further uplifting spirit that was exactly what Amarni needed.

But he's loving life back on the footy field.

"I feel like things are slowly falling into place. It's obviously going to take a while, but everything's been going pretty good and I'm being cautious of all the little niggles and that so I don't get like any other injuries and just been doing a bit more recovery," Amarni said.

The playmaker said he hoped to play Mal Meninga Cup next year, represent Keebra Park and push for schoolboys representative honours on his way to one day cracking the NRL.

South East reps turn experience to leadership

Three players who gained a valuable experience with the South East under 14 team last year have gone on to lead their clubs to success this year.

Jamal Bell being handed his player of the match award.
Jamal Bell being handed his player of the match award.

Jamal Bell, Cody Lewis and Mervyn Stewart all represented the side - selected from players in divisions 2, 3 and 4 - that played in the Rees Orman City Country Cultural Exchange carnival in 2022, which welcomes Queensland Outback teams to the coast for footy and fun.

This year they've all played major roles in grand final wins.

Redlands' Cody Lewis receiving his award
Redlands' Cody Lewis receiving his award

Jamal Bell was player of the match for Norths Juniors under 15 Div 2 win over West Brisbane Panthers 38-12, while Cody Lewis was player of the match for Redlands against Browns Plains in the under 15 Div 3 grand final.

Mervyn Stewart didn't get player of the final but he did score four tries to help Burpengary Jets beat Easts Juniors 28-4 in the under 16 Division 3 grand final.

Mervyn Stewart after the GF
Mervyn Stewart after the GF
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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