After starring in his return to the Test arena last Saturday, Jamayne Isaako is relishing the prospect of facing off with his Dolphins teammate Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow this Saturday in Melbourne.
A two-try showing in New Zealand's 50-0 drubbing of Toa Samoa in week two of the Pacific Championships headlined Isaako's first international match since 2019.
Now the 27-year-old is set to clash directly with Tabuai-Fidow at AAMI Park when the Kangaroos take on the Kiwis, after 'Hammer' enjoyed a promising Australian debut earlier this month with a double of his own against Samoa.
The pair have each carried their strong NRL form – which saw them score a combined 39 tries for the competition newcomers – into the Test arena with their nations of birth, after both representing Samoa in the past.
"Definitely looking forward to it, there's been some banter between us leading up to this game," Isaako said when asked about facing Tabuai-Fidow.
It's always special to see your teammates and how they are going, especially Hammer representing Australia.Jamayne Isaako
"To see him and how he shone in the green and gold, I was pretty happy for him."
Following the match at Eden Park Isaako paid tribute to the Dolphins' coaching staff for helping him rediscover the type of form which once had him considered among the NRL's top up-and-coming prospects.
Kiwis v Toa Samoa - Week 2, 2023
A tough 2022 campaign saw him switch clubs from the Broncos to the Titans mid-season and finish the year in reserve grade, before he linked with the Dolphins and enjoyed a huge season, which included topping the Telstra Premiership in try-scoring and point-scoring on his way to being named in the Dally M Team of the Year.
"The confidence that Wayne and the coaching staff at the Dolphins have been able to instill in me and bring back, obviously I haven't really been playing with too much confidence over the last couple of years," Isaako said.
Ken Irvine Medal: Jamayne Isaako
"I've spent a lot of time trying to get that confidence back over the pre-season.
"They've given me full confidence coming into this season and then obviously coming into camp with the Kiwis.
"To be back in the black jersey and play on home soil was extra special."
Match: Kangaroos v Kiwis
Week 3 -
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne