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Idol chatter is music to Jahream's ears in Camp Bati

When Fiji captain Tui Kamikamica made his Test debut in 2016, Jahream Bula was kicking a footy around with his schoolmates at Keebra Park State High, dreaming of adding his name to the school’s list of famous footy alumni.

Seven years down the track, Kamikamica has 16 Tests to his name and the Wests Tigers wonderkid is 18 games into that top-grade career, seemingly with the world at his feet.

As he prepares to cap a remarkable rookie season with his first Test cap for Fiji against Cook Islands on Sunday, 21-year-old Bula has to pinch himself as he kicks a footy around with the likes of Kamikamica, Maika Sivo and Taane Milne, who have 33 Tests between them.

“After watching Sivo and Tui and those boys when I was growing up it is an unreal experience to play with them,” Bula said from Papua New Guinea.

“I looked up to Tui and he is a great captain for us because we have a very young team and he guides us.

Fiji v Cook Islands: Week 2

“It’s crazy to rub shoulders with Sivo and the big boys. I’m just a little skinny boy but they’ve all good to me and I enjoy being here.

“I just want to go out there and have fun and do my job.”

Apart from playing the game in Port Moresby with a smile on his face, Bula’s mission is to honour his grandfather with a performance every bit as classy as those that catapulted him into Dally M rookie of the year contention in 2023.

In the end that honour went to his Bati teammate Sunia Turuva, who averaged 165 metres per game, scored 12 tries and busted 124 tackles as part of the Panthers’ historic three-peat campaign.

NRL try time: Jahream Bula

“He [Turuva] is a freak of a player and an even better person, I’m proud of him,” Bula said.

“It’s a surreal feeling being here in camp and I’m excited to represent Fiji and my grandpa.

“He is getting old so I want to play for him and make him proud. I’m excited to learn the culture.

“The daily devotions are good for me and that's the thing I'm looking forward to the most, growing closer to my faith.”

Born in Auckland and eligible to represent New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa, Bula admitted it was a "surreal feeling" to get the call from Bati coach Wise Kativerata offering him the chance to be part of the Pacific Championships campaign, and he's determined to ensure it's not a one-off.

"Hopefully in the future I will still get the call-up," he said. "I will definitely represent Fiji in the future."

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