Kurt Kara — who had his ear half ripped off off in a game for the Newtown Jets in 2012 — has been named on an extended bench for the Roosters in the World Club Challenge against Wigan this Saturday.
The 24-year-old utility has been training full-time with the Roosters during the offseason and is an outside chance of snaring a spot in the final 17 with Mitchell Pearce suffering a cork for the Roosters in the Nines on Saturday. While MP7 is more than likely to play, if coach Trent Robinson decides against risking him Daniel Mortimer will move to halfback with Kara to take his utility spot off the bench.
Kara has been playing for the Jets for the past three years, primarily as a hooker. He suffered a serious ear injury which forced him to have emergency surgery the week prior to the NSW Cup Grand Final in 2012.
Courageously, he played the week following the surgery. Returning as a five-eighth and wearing a headgear to protect himself, he joined Mortimer in the halves to lead the Jets to the club’s come-from-behind 22-18 win over the Balmain Tigers, its highest-level premiership since 1974.
He was suitably rewarded individually that year, winning the club’s prestigious Fred Daly Memorial Shield — awarded to the player who contributed most to the Jets on and off the playing field. He won the club’s best and fairest award a year later.
Kara began his career with the New Zealand Warriors, playing 31 games for the Auckland-based club’s then-Toyota Cup side from 2008-2009, scoring seven tries. He also played for the Western Suburbs Magpies in NSW Cup before joining the Jets.
The naming of the 185cm, 94kg Kara to the bench of the WCC squad may come as a shock to many fans considering the availability of Samisoni Langi who could fill the utility spot in a pinch with an ability to play in the halves, at lock and at centre.
But from all reports Kara has trained the house down over the offseason and may become that back-up bench utility during the Origin period if Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney are selected for the Blues once again. He has size and the skills to succeed, and is as tough as a well-done steak.
Kara played primarily at hooker during the Roosters/Jets composite side’s 32-4 win over the Newcastle Knights in the trial match last weekend, and he saw extended minutes thanks to an impressive display. It was a performance that seemingly sees the Waikato product in prime position to step onto the big stage in 2014 — with the World Club Challenge one of the biggest stages of all.