Story published in The Daily Telegraph Saturday 03/05/2014.
FORMER X-factor star Jakiel Mariner has a new name, but the same attitude, as he prepares for NSW U20s Origin clash with Queensland on Saturday.
Mariner goes by the surname Fuimaono in the boy band Fortunate, which reached the finals of X-Factor two years ago.
The band, which also includes Mariner’s brothers Izaia and Jaye and close friend Joseph, has a following of more than 10,000 fans on Twitter.
While Mariner has loved the success, it never replaced his desire to play rugby league. After returning from two years out of the game, Mariner has adopted his new name to take the focus off his stage persona.
Mariner is still juggling his performing duties in Fortunate with his career in the Roosters’ Holden Cup team.
“I’ve done five weeks consecutively where I’ve played a game,” Mariner said.
“I’ve gone straight to the airport and flown to one of our shows interstate. “We’re going to America after the season finishes for about six weeks so yeah it’s pretty full on.”
Fortunate has a worldwide fan base.
“We’ve got people calling from America who don’t know what rugby league is,” Mariner said.
The back rower said slotting back into rugby league had been challenging.
“It’s been a little bit of a shock, it’s not as easy as it was before. But it’s good, I love its physical side and that’s why I came back.” Mariner said.
“It means quite a lot representing my state, I just love getting out there with the boys and doing what we do. “When I came back towards the end of last year I made a few goals. One of goals was to make the Origin squad so I’m glad I actually completed it and I can tick it off.”