As seen on nrl.com by Corey Rosser
Watching Jared Waerea-Hargreaves toe the fine line between on-field intimidator and flat out rule breaker can be a whirlwind adventure for any rugby league fan.
Now imagine what it must be like for the 33-year-old father of three to try and explain it to his kids when he gets home.
“My oldest is seven now and she loves watching daddy play for the Roosters. Sometimes the line gets pushed and I may have an altercation on the field and my daughter does see,” Waerea-Hargreaves said.
“I get home and explain that daddy got in trouble on the field last night. She asks ‘why did you get in trouble?’ and I say ‘sometimes daddy has to push a boundary that is sometimes a little bit too far’ and you can see her little mind thinking.”
The most recent of those conversions likely took place last month, when a head slam on Rabbitohs prop on Tom Burgess in a fiery Qualifying Final clash which the Roosters lost, saw Waerea-Hargreaves cop a three-game ban.
At the point of learning about that charge, ‘JWH’ assumed it had killed off any hope he had of making coach Michael Maguire’s New Zealand squad for the World Cup.
“When I woke up after having a few beers after the last Roosters game, I woke up to my wife saying that I’d been suspended for three games,” Waerea-Hargreaves said.
“Firstly I thought that I wasn’t going [to the World Cup]. I sat there for about half an hour thinking ‘there’s no way Madge [Maguire] is going to select me now that I’m not going to be playing for a month.’”
But with Maguire still seeing the veteran as a key part of the Kiwis’ campaign, a grateful Waerea-Hargreaves is now in line to make his return to the Test arena for the first time since 2019 when New Zealand play Ireland on Saturday morning (AEDT).
After playing 20 NRL games this year the Rotorua-born prop admitted the opening month of camp with the Kiwis has been a frustrating experience, as he trained on knowing he wasn’t in the frame for selection.
“You come away and all you want to do is play… I have got to be honest with you, it’s quite frustrating, you come away in a 24-man squad and you do fitness most days and go and do extra work away [from the group], knowing it’s going to benefit yourself and the team, but there’s no real light at the end of the tunnel other than three, four weeks away,” he said.
“I trained with the team [this week], other than just running the ball up 20 times and getting bashed and just being that guy. It was really exciting to be back and knowing that I’m playing on Friday.
“I just need to get out there this Friday and play as long and as hard as I can. Hopefully that leads me into selections the following week.”
Waerea-Hargreaves faces an uphill battle to force his way into the 17 beyond group play, with New Zealand possessing impressive depth in the front row.
With Joseph Tapine likely to play lock, Premiership-winning Panther James Fisher-Harris and captain Jesse Bromwich are the first-choice starters, with Nelson Asofa-Solomona also sure to be part of the squad, likely leaving JWH to fight it with Penrith duo Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen for a spot on the bench.
Bromwich said Waerea-Hargreaves’ style will fit in nicely with the current group of Kiwis big boppers.
“He brings a lot to the team both on and off the field. I look forward to seeing him rip and tear this week,” Bromwich said.
“We all know he is a really aggressive sort of player and plays with a lot of intent, and I think it’s going to suit this team really nicely.”