Queensland star Dane Gagai has finally opened up about his shock sacking four years ago by six-time NRL premier Brisbane.
Now playing great football for Newcastle and considered a certain Origin selection this year, Gagai has set the record straight about his dumping just two months after signing a two-year contract extension with the Broncos in 2012.
It was widely reported Brisbane had run out of patience with the promising youngster following a number of discipline breaches.
"That's something I was filthy about," the 25 year-old told APN in a revealing interview after his Indigenous All Stars lost 12-8 to the World All Stars in Brisbane last weekend.
"I've always been a player for the fans. I turned up to everything.
"It still bugs me a bit because it was all over a weight issue."
The brilliant centre said he wanted to get his weight up to 96kg, but the club thought that was too heavy.
"I struggled to get to the weight they wanted me to play at. I'm not making any excuses, but I was not comfortable at that weight," he said.
Coach Wayne Bennett, who had just moved to Newcastle after taking St George Illawarra to its first premiership in 35 years, was well aware of Gagai's potential, having been head coach of Brisbane when the speedster was playing for the Broncos' NYC team.
One of the first things Gagai did was ask Bennett for an assurance he could play at the weight he was comfortable with, to avoid a repeat of the situation he had faced at the Broncos.
"The first thing I said to Wayne was, if I came to the Knights I didn't want to have to worry about my weight like I did at the Broncos," Gagai said.
"Wayne said 'mate, if you play good footy for me, I don't care what you weigh'.
"That's why he is such a great mentor.
"He also helped me move into the centres. I hadn't played much centre and I hope I can become the player he thinks I have the potential to be."
Gagai is well on the way to that and said he believed he could go to another level in coming seasons.
"You can always be better. Look at blokes like Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis, they are always getting better."
Gagai also revealed he had another inspiration in his life.
When he moved to Newcastle he lived with Alex McKinnon, the young Newcastle forward rendered a quadriplegic in a tackle in a match against the Melbourne Storm in 2014.
"He's truly a one-of-a-kind bloke - I've learned so much from him," Gagai said.
"It's funny I say that because he is younger than me, but he is a very mature man and someone who inspires everyone around him."
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