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Code-hopper Hammer happy to finally hit hallowed MCG turf

For those who have followed Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow’s sporting career throughout the years, the sight of him running out on the hallowed turf of the MCG next week comes as no surprise.

However, the code he will be playing is not quite what current Gold Coast Suns Academy manager Kath Newman expected, having helped ‘the Hammer’ develop his sporting skills when he was a promising AFL player coming through the junior ranks before casting his focus on rugby league.

“He was in the North Queensland Under 16 team in 2017 and came through the AFL Cape York program, called the Cape Crusaders. They do a lot of work through Cape York and through Torres Strait Islands,” Newman recalled to

“He came to the North Queensland Championships at Airlie Beach and was a standout there, just with his speed and athleticism and then he made the North Queensland team. He was boarding at Brisbane Grammar School at that time … so we had to go and pick him up from school and bring him into camp with the rest of the boys.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow represented North Queensland as a junior in Aussie Rules.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow represented North Queensland as a junior in Aussie Rules. ©Supplied

“But there were quite a few Cape York boys in that team, so he fit in really well and just transitioned straight into the team, and then from that he was then selected in the Queensland team.

“Watching him play, he just ran so beautifully and never looked like he was ever out of second gear. No one could catch him.

He had such a beautiful running style and he never looked like he was trying, he was that sort of player.

Gold Coast Suns academy manager Kath Newman

“The AFL Cape York guys always hand out a Crusader medal, and it's not necessarily to the best player, but the best teammate who picks up after themselves and helps their teammates.

"He was the winner of that (that year), so not only was he seen to be a good footballer, but definitely as a very quality young man and a great character.”

Inside Camp: Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow

A multi-talented athlete growing up with a reported time of 10.85 for the 100 metres as a 16-year-old, Tabuai-Fidow also dabbled in rugby union as well as AFL before finding his feet in rugby league – debuting with the North Queensland Cowboys in 2020 before taking his game to the next level at the Dolphins.

He'll take centre stage at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday night for the first time in his career – a venue that, in another life, could have seen him running out in an AFL fixture.

“Oh, absolutely, absolutely,” Newman said when asked if Tabuai-Fidow could have made it as an AFL player.

“We always want the kids to play whatever sport that they love and that's what he's done, he's made that choice. Had he gone the other way, I have absolutely no doubt he would be playing in the AFL.

“I'm guessing Hamiso got his good ball skills – he can jump and take a mark – would he have learnt that if he was just doing rugby league growing up? I don't know, but certainly, all the different sports help to make a really good athlete and you see that all over the place."

Origin stat: The Hammer has scored in every Origin game he's played

“I'm excited to play there," Tabuai-Fidow said ahead of his MCG debut.

"I've heard a lot of stories about the stadium and how big it is and I’m just excited to get out there and see it. It's a famous stadium within the AFL sport and growing up as a kid, just playing at those big stadiums would have been pretty cool.

“Buddy Franklin was my AFL idol, just the stuff that he did during the game. He was a big body and just those goals and those marks that he did take were pretty special and just watching him grow up was pretty special.

“I'm excited and get to play rugby league on that stadium."

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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