100% Locally Owned, Independent and Free

100% Locally Owned, Independent and Free

How one of the NRL's talented teenagers is preparing for life after footy

Do you have a news tip? Click here to send to our news team.

Your say: seawall plans, bus numbers and more

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor at Sunshine Coast News via news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. You must include your name More

Highway mayhem following crashes in both lanes

The Bruce Highway was closed for more than three hours this morning following crashes both north and southbound. Twelve people were injured in the accidents, More

Cheers to a new generation bringing cane back to the farm

Sugarcane is being planted on a Sunshine Coast farm for the first time in 20 years as members of a local family pioneer a More

Childcare centre proposal sparks debate over location

Councillors have debated the need for new childcare centre that would deliver an “essential service” to a burgeoning business district. A development application was submitted More

Application seeks increased number of units on vacant block

The real estate trio behind a proposed unit complex at Caloundra hopes to almost double the number of units approved for the site. About M, More

Division by division: what your suburb gets in council budget

The newly-elected Sunshine Coast Council yesterday handed down its first budget, with mayor Rosanna Natoli saying it was focused on “improving transport, roads, pathways More

Rising NRL star Isaiya Katoa crashes into some of the biggest, strongest and fastest men in the country but says some aspects of university life can be more daunting.

The 19-year-old, who plays professional rugby league for the Dolphins, is a first-year Bachelor of Business student at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

“I think I probably deal with pressure in footy a bit better than I do in exams,” he said.

“Exams haunt me (laughs). But it’s cool.”

Balancing studying and sport has become a constant in his life. Being earmarked as one of Australia’s top schoolboy rugby league and rugby union talents will do that.

“I finished up school last year in Sydney and then had to sit my HSC exam across the other side of the world in the UK,” he said.

He wasn’t on holiday. He was representing Tonga at the Rugby League World Cup in England, at just 18 years old.

“That was a different experience. I was in a hotel room by myself with no one to study with and get help from – it was pretty difficult,” he said.

Isaiya Katoa is doing a Bachelor of Business degree at UniSC.

Joining the Dolphins for their inaugural season in the NRL brought him to Queensland and to the University of the Sunshine Coast’s High Performance Student Athlete Program.

However, he admits he wasn’t sure how he’d go balancing university with professional sport at first.

“I’ve always been pretty intrigued by business management – whether that’s related to sports business or even just running your own. I wanted to get a good insight of what it takes to do things like that,” he said.

“After talking to the wellbeing staff and understanding how this is setting myself up for the future, I realised it was probably a smart decision. Especially as a young kid just coming out of school with studying still fresh in my brain.”

That doesn’t mean it’s all been smooth sailing.

Isaiya Katoa is working hard at his studies.

“It’s been a matter of time management. Probably halfway through the year is when I finally found a rhythm in terms of balancing out studying and training,” he said.

“Luckily, one of my teammates Jack (Bostock) is studying a Bachelor of Business at UniSC too and that’s been really good because we feed off each other. Honestly, I might have been a bit lost or forgotten some of work that needed to be done if he wasn’t in my class.”

“We’ve also had a study group going at the Dolphins, organised by our welfare and wellbeing staff, where once every week or so we can come in and even get some tutoring help if needed. We’ve had really good support from the club and UniSC.”

A business degree might not help much with his current day-to-day concerns of pro sport but he has already seen some overlaps between his coursework and the business of rugby league.

“I think the business management side of it and decision making … that’s been a massive part that I’ve found interesting,” he said.

“Obviously it’s in a different industry but seeing some of the decisions our coaches make, and the things they have to take into consideration – whether that’s injury, workload or how the body’s travelling. Understanding the link between that, and the concepts that we’ve been learning, has been pretty interesting.”

He said master coach Wayne Bennett could make a good business teacher.

“Yeah, for sure. He’s smart bro, he knows a lot. He’d be good.”

Isaiya Katoa during an NRL match. Picture: AAP.

He said his friends, family and girlfriend have helped him keep a level head and his priorities in check.

“The leadership group we have at our club has to be one of the best in terms of looking after their life outside of footy with the likes of our captain Jesse (Bromwich), Felise (Kaufusi), Euan (Aitken) and Sean (O’Sullivan),” he said.

“It’s been awesome to have those guys around as mentors.”

But now, as a rugby league international and university student, he’s becoming something of a role model himself to thousands of young kids in Australia, Tonga and New Zealand, where he grew up.

“Honestly, I try not to think of myself as a role model or anything. I’m still pretty young myself and still working out how to juggle my studies with my footy,” he said.

“I just try to be a good human first, and a good footy player second.”

Scroll down to SUBSCRIBE for our FREE news feed, direct to your inbox daily.

Subscribe to SCN’s Daily News

Hidden
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
[scn_go_back_button] Return Home