Every tackle and metre Jazz Tevaga makes for the Warriors in 2023 will carry even more importance following his pledge to turn stats into cash, all in the name of raising money for his close friend who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
After learning of the plight facing childhood friend and former Junior Warriors teammate Roman Tuhimata, Tevaga will donate $10 for every tackle he makes this Telstra Premiership season to a fundraiser set up for him, along with $1 for every metre gained and $500 per try.
Last year that would have cost the 27-year-old utility $7,527 (NZD), while a repeat of the numbers he achieved in 2018, when he was named Dally M Interchange Player of the Year, would see Tevaga shelling out $9,512.
The pledge is Tevaga's way of raising awareness and money for the cause, while putting a smile on the face of a friend group struggling to come to terms with the diagnosis.
Tuhimata, who is 27 and unable to work during his treatment, was diagnosed with Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumors (DSRCT), a rare and aggressive form of cancer.
"Learning about Roman's test results, it was honestly one of the toughest days," Tevaga told NRL.com.
"We all ended up meeting up as soon as we found out and there were a lot of tears shed for our bro."
Tevaga had originally planned to donate money for every negative metric he accumulated in 2023 – his way of finding a positive from an area of his game often criticised – before opting instead to give money for positive game actions.
Tevaga crashes over
"The sad thing was when I was going to do it for errors, Roman was telling me he hoped I knocked it on three times a game!" Tevaga said.
"It makes more sense to do it for positive stuff. When I'm tired out there this will be some extra motivation."
While Tevaga joked he would consider feigning a sore hamstring if he got too close to 50 tackles in a game this season, he said the most costly gesture might actually come this Sunday when he shaves his hair off for the cause.
"My hair is going back (receding) already, so this'll probably be my last hair cut... Luckily I have a missus already!
"I will be rocking the bald head for the full duration of his chemo, which is for eight months, so the entire NRL season pretty much."