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Illawarra host the Newtown Jets in Round 3 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW. Image:

Asked to ply his trade in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW competition in the pursuit of bigger things, better still, self-proclaimed “power player” Sam Tagataese is embracing the early challenges that the 2017 season has delivered.

A vital member of the NRL premiership-winning Cronulla Sharks forward pack last season, the 30-year-old Samoan international has thrown down the challenge to himself – along with his Jets teammates – to heap the pressure back onto the NRL regulars.

“Definitely, the depth can only mean good things for the two teams across the two competitions,” Tagataese tells

“As much as myself, T-Rex (Tony Williams) and Nu (Fa’amanu Brown) are playing in the Intrust Super Premiership, good performances and wins here for the Jets puts the pressure back on the (Sharks) NRL squad, too.

“It can only mean good things for the teams, and for the players themselves. It brings out the best in everyone.”

Tagataese and the Jets showed signs of that mental resolve at the weekend, fighting back to score a late win over the Wests Tigers in Round 4 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.

Trailing by four points and the official’s clock their adversary, a late converted try saw the Jets claim their second success of the 2017 season, in drama-filled circumstances at Campbelltown.

“We were just glad to get the win, we made it tough on ourselves there but we hung in,” Tagataese says.

“The Tigers knew that they were a better team than the last two weeks, they know they had a point to prove. They had to play well to get their confidence back up, and that they did.

“But I thought (our halves) controlled the game well, it made our job in the middle much easier as they demanded us where to get to on the field. I think you saw that those combinations, It’s still a work in progress.”

Following a four-week block on the road to start the season, the Jets return to a home ground – of sorts –  preluding the NRL fixture in the Shire next Saturday afternoon.

“Everyone loves playing in front of big crowds, and I’m sure there’ll be another good turn out there next weekend at (Southern Cross Group Stadium),” Tagataese says.

“We just need to look at the areas we have to improve upon before that Knights game. That’s what we’ll work on this week.” 

The next generation of NRL and NSW VB Blues players come directly from the Intrust Super Premiership NSW – click here for the latest on NSWRL’s blue-ribbon open-age competition.