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Jahream Bula still hasn't got used to seeing Greg Inglis' name pop up on his phone – a regular occurrence now with the Queensland legend acting as a mentor for the young gun fullback. 

Inglis was someone the Wests Tigers No.1 grew up idolising with the youngster hoping he could one day recreate his hero's feats on a football field. 

Now they're in regular contact and Bula still occasionally has to remind himself it's not a dream.

"I got pretty emotional when Benji [Marshall] told me during the pre-season," Bula told "He said GI wanted to mentor me. I grew up watching GI, now he wants to work with me, it's surreal. 

"It's special he wants to help me out. He didn't have to and that's why it means a lot."

Jahream Bula has continued to grow throughout his second season in the NRL.
Jahream Bula has continued to grow throughout his second season in the NRL. ©NRL Photos

The relationship between Bula and Inglis started during the pre-season, when new Wests Tigers CEO Shane Richardson reached out to the South Sydney legend. 

Inglis jumped at the opportunity to work with a young Indigenous player and they now chat around once a week. 

Sometimes Bula reaches out, other times Inglis gives his protege a call to check in on how he's going.

Bula brilliance

The conversations are largely focused on life off the field, Inglis conscious of leaving the on-field discussions to Wests Tigers coach Benji Marshall. 

"I don't think he realises the potential of his career and where it can take him," Inglis told "That's a good thing with the kind of kid he is. He's humble, his feet are planted and he doesn't have a big head.

"We've spoken about blocking the noise out around social media. When the team's not performing well, the fans can be pretty nasty, I just tell Jahream not to put too much energy into it."

Queensland legend Greg Inglis has become a mentor for Wests Tigers youngster Jahream Bula.
Queensland legend Greg Inglis has become a mentor for Wests Tigers youngster Jahream Bula. ©NRL Photos

Bula made his NRL debut in round eight last season and has been a bright spot amid a challenging start to the year. 

The diminutive fullback has lightning speed and a unique ability to break tackles, while he has also displayed a bigger frame in 2024 after bulking up over the summer. 

Friday night's clash with the Cowboys will mark Bula's second Indigenous Round and Inglis is confident it won't be the last. 

"You could see towards the back end of last year he was a bit sore," Inglis said. "He's bulked up now, he's fitter, leaner and he's just a pure athlete. 

"He's come a long way this year, he's reading the game well. Benji and the coaching staff have done a lot of work with him in the off-season and that's showing."

Bula was born in New Zealand before moving to the Gold Coast as a teenager and attending Marshall's former school Keebra Park.

His father is Fijian and Indigenous, the move to Australia prompting Jahream to commence further exploration of his Aboriginal heritage.

Bula's star continues to rise

It is an ongoing process and Bula knows he has plenty more to learn but he is proud of his background and is confident his comfort off the field will translate to his performances on the field. 

"I'm learning how to use my voice," Bula said. "I'm naturally not a vocal guy but when I am vocal the team usually performs better, so it's something I'm working on."

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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