Castleford Tigers: Schoolboy Jason Qareqare ready to make the grade in Super League
SUPER LEAGUE coaches don’t accept many excuses for missing training sessions, but Castleford Tigers’ teenage winger Jason Qareqare has a very good reason.
Now a member of Castleford’s elite squad, after scoring with his first touch less than a minute into his debut against Hull last summer, Qareqare is still at school and hoping to go on to university.
Born in Fiji, the 17-year-old has been granted two days per week away from the club in order to complete his studies at the independent Queen Ethelburga’s College, near York.
Up until his memorable debut, Qareqare was part of Tigers’ under-19s squad.
He admits combining education with ‘full-time’ rugby is not something he had considered, but says both school and club have fully supported his dual ambitions.
“I am part-time, three times a week,” said Qareqare of his rugby commitments.
“It should be five times a week, but I am in school on a Monday and Wednesday.
“I am studying BTEC sport and BTEC business; I never thought I would break through this early so it was a bit of a shock, but when I told them [the school], they were fine with it.
“They have been really supportive, if there’s any work I need to catch up on, they help me - and with out-of-school sessions.
“Cas as well, they have been really good with me. If I need time off - because it’s my last year of school, which is obviously important - they have let me have some days off before big tests.”
Part of an army family, Qareqare lived in Germany from 2004-2008 before moving to Yorkshire.
Always keen to make the grade as a professional sportsman, he focused on football until 2013 when Fiji’s run to the rugby league World Cup semi-finals inspired a change of code.
Signed by Castleford from the Kippax Welfare community club, he impressed with his pace and footwork during three Super League appearances last year.
Now Qareqare is hoping to catch the eye of new coach Lee Radford in pre-season and gain more game time during the 2022 campaign.
Recalling the progress made since his first appearance at first team level - and what was voted Tigers’ try of the season - he said: “It is surreal.
“Before the game I was really nervous and in the warm-up as well; with the crowd building up, it was really nerve-wracking.
“Now I am looking forward to hopefully getting some games under my belt and progressing with my rugby.”
The Tigers prospect is not the only aspiring Super League star in his family.
His 15-year-old brother Marcus was part of the latest scholarship intake at Castleford’s arch-rivals Leeds Rhinos.
Jason said: “He got offered a place at both Castleford and Leeds.
“We sat around a table and discussed what was the best option for him.
“I was saying ‘Cas, everyone knows you there’, but he wanted to go a different route and try and make a name for himself.”