Jamayne Taunoa-Brown has finally cracked the big time, just when big is not supposed to be better in the NRL.

The unheralded Warriors forward scored an excellent try from a sharp pickup in the 18-0 win over the Dragons, when the NRL resumed last week.

That capped a solid outing from the 113kg prop, who cracked the 100-metre mark with his runs and played an important part in an impressive team performance.

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Born and raised in Melbourne, but with strong New Zealand links, Taunoa-Brown feared he had "stuffed up" his hopes of an NRL career.

Taunoa-Brown, aged 23, was on the Melbourne Storm and Newcastle Knights' books. He ended up playing local footy in Newcastle before shifting to Brisbane, where the Warriors recruitment boss Peter O'Sullivan spotted his potential in club league.

"I was in the under-20 system in Melbourne and had a pretty decent year but I don't think it was looking anything like first grade," he says from the Warriors' base in Gosford.

"Then an opportunity popped up with Newcastle, the under-20s again, in the New South Wales Cup.

"I thought I went well, the coaching staff there were happy with me, but towards the end I stuffed things up for myself a bit.

"I found myself back in the local comp, wasn't putting my best foot forward to get a crack at the NRL. I don't think it was anything to do with the club. It was just me. I fell out of love with the game a bit.

"I didn't think the NRL was going to happen for me. Once I was in the local competition I gave up a bit. But I got a bit of a spark again and chased the dream again."

Taunoa-Brown is of Ngāti Kahungunu descent on his father Brandon's side, with a big family in Napier. His mother Jamie, from South Australia, is "half Aboriginal Australian".


He received early headlines this year via a surprise call-up to the Indigenous All Stars who played the Maori All Stars. And it helped him land a two-year Warriors contract, as the club battled a middle forward injury crisis.

Taunoa-Brown is averaging over 100 metres in his three Warriors first grade appearances but the game is providing added challenges for big forwards.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, the NRL introduced a six again rule for ruck infringements, which increased the fatigue factor.

Taunoa-Brown has slimmed down from 117kg but is still a big league unit, and says he did feel "gassed" at times against the Dragons.

"I guess it might become a bit harder for the bigger guys - we'll have to see how the rules play out," he said.

"It's definitely a lot faster with the six again rule. When defending it puts you on the back foot a bit, with teams coming through the middle so fast.


"It's good on the attacking side of things. You wrap up and go through the middle as fast as you can.

"But I don't feel too bad at the moment, being a bit on the bigger side."

He will go into the round four game against the Panthers on Friday buoyed by his form and the sharp try which set the Warriors on the road to victory against the Dragons.

"I was a bit surprised when I saw the ball pop out of (Matt) Dufty's hands," he says.

"My eyes lit up and once I got over the line, I saw the ref go up to the bunker. I was trying to think what I did wrong.

"It's been crazy the past few months, just how much my life has changed. I'm just grateful to be where I am today, and that try on the weekend was pretty special.


"I've put all my eggs in one basket, to get an NRL contract. I was in and out of labouring jobs and didn't really enjoy that to much. I didn't want to be a labourer for the rest of my life.

"I thought the NRL dream was over for me. But I guess anything is possible - if you want something it's achievable."