Former League Star Sets Sight On The FutureRugby League legend Adrian Lam has a sporting resume most young footy players would only dream of achieving. But for Papua New Guinea’s Varage (Junior) Wari, his football career is set to look just as bright having scored the first scholarship from The Adrian Lam Foundation.
PNG born Lam, now coach of St George Illawarra’s Toyota Cup (Under 20s) team, set up the Adrian Lam Foundation to help kids achieve further education, promote rugby league, address social and domestic responsibilities and promote healthy living for young people and communities in PNG.
Lam handpicked Wari from last year’s PNG National School Boy Rugby League Competition after seeing that the sixteen year-old could be a future star of the sport. Wari is now living with Lam and his family at their home in Clovelly and according to the former Roosters halfback, he has “all the right attributes that will make a very talented rugby league player.”
Wari is attending school at Matraville Sports High, where rugby league forms part of his weekly curriculum, and he took to the field in August to play his first footy game for the school. Under the guidance of Lam and the Foundation, Wari is not only pursuing his sporting career but also focusing on getting a good education.
Not only has Lam seen the potential in Wari, so too have the Sydney Roosters, who have signed him to a three year contract to play in their under 18s side as part of the SG Ball competition.
“This is a massive opportunity for Junior and it is great that the Sydney Roosters have taken him on board to develop him as the complete player and to one day secure a contract in the NRL. He has a lot of work to do but he definitely has the potential,” Lam told The Beast
With Wari leaving his family behind in PNG, a country where rugby league is not only the national sport but part of the life and soul of the country, he is set to become a national hero back at home.
“They have gone crazy over him and are so proud of him,” Lam added.
Lam’s ties with his native PNG have always been strong having first represented his country of birth in 1993 before going on to play State of Origin for Queensland.
He was later approached to play for Australia and strongly considered the offer given that it was his childhood dream, but he inevitably made the decision to continue PNG as he believed it was in the best interest of both the game and his country of birth. It is something he has never regretted, and he stands as one of only two players ever to play State of Origin and represent a country other than Australia.
Lam’s love of rugby league and his own sporting success in both Australia and PNG have inspired the Adrian Lam Foundation, which provides amazing opportunities for kids and communities in PNG. As the first recipient of the foundation’s scholarship, Junior Wari is definitely a player to watch in the future.