Wolumla’s Jason Whitby is a very proud father, with son Jackson selected to play rugby league with the Fijian under 20s squad.
Jackson has been playing league with the Blacktown Sea Eagles since moving to Dural to take up a carpenter’s apprenticeship.
He formerly played minor rugby league with the Bega Roosters, rising through the ranks to be one of the young stars in the older grades.
In fact, Jackson played in six grand finals before even turning 19 – two of those with Bega’s first grade side.
While in the under 16s he also played up in the under 18s, then during his two years in the 18s he also played up in firsts.
“He played in Bega’s three consecutive grand final wins,” Jason said this week after returning from watching his boy run on with Fiji.
Blacktown made it to this year’s decider as well, but was beaten at the last hurdle.
Jason said Jackson figured his playing was done for the year, but then he received an invite to train with the Fijian squad – Jackson’s mother is originally from Fiji.
He went along to train, met the coaches and players and then made selection.
“I was so proud, couldn’t be any prouder,” Jason said.
“He’s always wanted to play at the elite level, to play NRL. Hopefully his time with Fiji will help him with his NRL dreams.”
The Fijian under 20 side is part of a competition running as a precursor to the upcoming Rugby League World Cup, incorporating the younger grades of 16s, 18s, 20s and women.
Jackson’s first game was against Italy and then he came up against Lebanon, with proud dad watching on.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Jason said.
“He played off the bench as a replacement hooker and played quite well.
“And he’s still got another year in the under 20s so he’ll be at the top of his game next season.”