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Broncos fullback Tesi Niu struggling after his dad's shock death before start of the 2022 season

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‘Can’t stop crying’: Broncos fullback Tesi Niu reveals how he overcame his dad’s shock death just before the start of the 2022 season to realise his NRL dream

  • Broncos star Tesi Niu is grieving the sudden loss of his father, who was just 48
  • The 20-year-old will be tested by Penrith halves Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai
  • After a promising start, Brisbane have dipped in form, Penrith looking ominous

Brisbane fullback Tesi Niu has endured significant head noise in the past few weeks – and it doesn’t have much to do with the mixed fortunes of the Broncos.

The 20-year-old is grieving the sudden loss of his father Fanitesi, who died aged just 48 on the eve of the 2022 NRL premiership.

While footy has been a welcome distraction, Niu’s mixed displays against the likes of the Cowboys, Warriors and Roosters will ensure plenty of aerial traffic when Kevin Walters’ team take on premiers Penrith this Friday night.

In what looms as the ultimate test given the accuracy of Nathan Cleary’s kicks, it could be a long 80 minutes for the rising star.     

‘It’s been a really tough time for me,’ the deeply religious Niu said.

Brisbane fullback Tesi Niu has endured significant head noise the past few weeks - and it doesn't have much to do with the current on-field fortunes of the Broncos

Brisbane fullback Tesi Niu has endured significant head noise the past few weeks – and it doesn’t have much to do with the current on-field fortunes of the Broncos

Rising Broncos star Tesi Niu, 20, is grieving the sudden loss of his father Fanitesi (pictured right) who died aged just 48 on the eve of the 2022 NRL premiership

Rising Broncos star Tesi Niu, 20, is grieving the sudden loss of his father Fanitesi (pictured right) who died aged just 48 on the eve of the 2022 NRL premiership

‘It’s all in God’s hands. It’s God’s plan. I know my dad is up there looking down on me and I have his support. It (death) was a shock, but I am grateful for all the memories I had with him.’

Niu has a fan in Walters, who has backed him to be club’s long-term fullback.

He knows the Panthers will ask plenty of questions at the end of sets at Bluebet Stadium, with pivot Jarome Luai also capable of producing testing grubber kicks. 

‘Penrith is a massive test. They play the full 80 minutes and they are the best team in the comp, so we need to get our confidence back and fix up the little things or the Panthers will make us pay,’ Niu told the Courier Mail.

‘I am still learning a lot about fullback play and I won’t be complacent. Things don’t always go your way but I’m determined to get better.’

Niu has a handy ex-player to call on for assistance – former club great Darius Boyd.

The duo have formed a close bond at Red Hill, with catching spiral torpedo kicks and not letting the Steeden bounce both a heavy focus at training all week.

Brisbane sit in 12th spot after five rounds, with Penrith the competition yardstick – as they have been since 2019.

Ivan Cleary’s men remain the only side not to taste defeat this season. 

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