Leading the life of Bhana

Vodafone Junior Warriors captain David Bhana has surely had the most extreme preparation of any player involved in this years NRL and NYC finals.


As he counts down to tonights sudden-death NYC semi-final against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium, the 20-year-old third-year University of Auckland student has been able to count just one team training session and five nights at home in the past two weeks.


Instead of training his existence over the past fortnight has been a maze if not a haze of airports, flights, university studies, official functions, quick trips home to pack and game days.


By the time he returns to Auckland tomorrow afternoon after tonights play-off he would have been into and out of airport terminals 10 times on nine separate days flying almost 18,000 kilometres on 10 Air New Zealand flights (never mind the distances covered on trips to and from the airport to home on Aucklands North Shore and to and from sites at his destinations).


As he told Vodafone Warriors TV: Its been a pretty hectic two weeks. Hectic doesnt do it justice.


Go back two weeks to the day (Friday, September 6) and late that afternoon the former Birkenhead College head boy and Northcote Tigers junior flew out of Auckland with the Vulcans for their final New South Wales Cup regular season match against the North Sydney Bears on Saturday, September 7.


Battered from a heavy defeat, he flew home the next day ending a late-season stint with the Vulcans knowing his next football commitment would be back with the Vodafone Junior Warriors for their finals campaign.


Instead of recovering and training, though, Bhana had an academic assignment on his agenda rather than a football one as he boarded a flight on Monday morning for a field trip in Whakatane (hes in the last year of a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in environmental science).


On Thursday he flew back to Auckland, raced home to pack and then dashed back to Auckland International Airport to join the Vodafone Junior Warriors for their flight to Sydney that afternoon ahead of their elimination final.


Without one training run with the team Bhana led the side to a hard-fought 20-18 victory last Friday night in a match in which he was typically his teams top defender with 44 tackles while also making 98 metres from 14 runs; he leads all players in the NYC for most average tackles per game (42.3) having made a total of 634 tackles in 15 matches.


Some rest was in sight as he flew back to Auckland last Saturday (September 14) for what has been a rare experience of three consecutive nights at home and two days to recover (no training was scheduled on Sunday or Monday).


By Tuesday the treadmill beckoned again. Bhana was beating a familiar track to the airport to board another Air New Zealand flight to Sydney, this time to attend the Rugby League Players Association annual awards dinner; Bhana, who is on a fulltime NRL contract with the Vodafone Warriors next year, was named the RLPA NYC Welfare and Education Player of the Year ahead of all players across the 16 clubs in the competition (last month he was also named in the NYC Team of the Year).


On Wednesday afternoon Bhana, by now stretching Air New Zealands inflight movies catalogue, flew back to Auckland, had a short turnaround at home to get dressed and then headed to SKYCITY for the Vodafone Junior Warriors annual NYC awards dinner. He was one of six finalists for the Vodafone Player of the Year award and the Sonny Fai Medal (which Michael Sio won) and he also made a special presentation to departing NYC coach John Ackland.


Bhanas fifth night at home was brief. He had to be at the airport by 7.00 yesterday morning and was airborne soon after 9.00 bound for Sydney ahead of a team run yesterday afternoon, his only training session with the side in the past fortnight.


Tonight hell lead the Vodafone Junior Warriors onto Allianz Stadium facing a Roosters side they lost to twice in tight contests earlier in the season, the Roosters staging late recoveries both times to win 24-20 at Eden Park in March and 31-26 in Sydney in June.


Tomorrow David Bhana will traipse out to Sydney Airport once more hoping he and his team-mates will be doing it all again next week.


The life of David Bhana. Phew!


THE LIFE OF BHANA


September 6 Fly to Sydney

September 7 New South Wales Cup: Auckland Vulcans v North Sydney

Bears

September 8 Fly to Auckland

September 9 Fly to Whakatane (field trip)

September 10 Whakatane (field trip)

September 11 Whakatane (field trip)

September 12 Fly Whakatane to Auckland, home to pack and then back

to airport to fly out to Sydney

September 13 NYC elimination final: Vodafone Junior Warriors v South Sydney

September 14 Fly to Auckland

September 15 Rest day

September 16 Rest day

September 17 Fly to Sydney for RLPA Awards dinner

September 18 Fly to Auckland for Vodafone Junior Warriors NYC awards dinner

September 19 Fly to Sydney

September 20 NYC semi-final: Vodafone Junior Warriors v Sydney Roosters

September 21 Fly to Auckland