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'We're all Jason, aren't we': US media compare Turbos with Kelces

The man from the New York Post wanted to know about Tom Trbojevic and his brothers. Were they anything like the NFL’s Travis and Jason Kelce?

Manly’s superstar fullback looked askance at the suggestion.

“Oh God!” the 27-year-old said.

We are in a conference room on the second floor - remember, American buildings don’t have ground floors - at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.

“I feel there’s a lot of differences between us at the Kelce brothers,” ‘Turbo’ says. “I respect what they’ve been able to do but, look, we’re far away from what they’ve been able to do in the world of sport.”

But the subject was out of the bag and wasn’t being squeezed back in so easily.

IF Turbo was one of the NFL’s Kelce brothers, which one WAS he?

Tom Trbojevic was the centre of attention for US media in Las Vegas
Tom Trbojevic was the centre of attention for US media in Las Vegas ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

“Well, I think we’re all Jason, aren’t we? None of us are Travis.”

This was the off-beat start of a media push in Sin City ahead of the NRL’s historic double-header there on Saturday, starting with Sea Eagles stars Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Aloiai, Luke Brooks and Trbojevic fronting the cameras at the UFC HQ.

Then Turbo joined South Sydney’s Damien Cook and Sydney Roosters’ James Tedesco at Resorts World for an outdoor media launch, complete with customised gridiron helmets, the premiership trophy, UFC fighters Tyson Pedro and Steven Erceg and magician Jackson Aces.

He and Tedesco later attended the Fox Sports launch, along with Brisbane's Pat Carrigan and South Sydney's Latrell Mitchell.

Pat Carrigan, Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco at the Fox Sports launch  in Vegas
Pat Carrigan, Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco at the Fox Sports launch in Vegas ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Trbojevic will start alongside brothers Jake and Ben on Saturday at Allegiant Stadium, a fact Aussie media may find rather routine but which impressed the US correspondent Mike Cannizzario no end.

“Jake’s a forward, so he’s more heavy-hitting, contact, all that sort of thing,” Tom explained helpfully. “I’m an outside back that can move a bit better than he does. And Ben’s in the middle of both of us, I would say. It’s a nice fit.

“I’ve been playing with Jake for eight, nine years now and then Ben obviously came on a couple of years ago. It’s nice to see his evolution as a footy player and now he’s starting back from for us, it’s really special to see.”

Which of them was more outgoing? Who is more intense?

“We’re very far from outgoing people,” Tom laughed. “If you asked everyone they would probably say I am - but saying I’m outgoing is pretty far fetched.”

With each Manly player shuffled in front of the sponsored backdrop, more questions were asked about the Serbia-eligible brothers.

Aloiai answered: “Burbo (Ben) is actually a smart arse and a pest. He’s my gym partner. I’ve got to know him quite well. They’re all nice boys. You’ve got to give their parents a pat on the back because they’ve raised three really good young men.”

Cherry-Evans offered: “Maybe we take it for granted a little bit but it is pretty cool, isn’t it? We went and did a Grand Canyon tour yesterday. I took a moment and thought ‘look at that: they’re on the other side of the world going to see the Grand Canyon together’.

“I can only think what it would be like to play first grade with my brothers. It would be a great opportunity.”

Trbojevic said the Super Bowl, played two and a half weeks ago at Saturday’s venue Allegiant Stadium was “such a big event - you never miss it every year”. 

Tom Trbojevic tries on a specially made Manly Sea Eagles NFL helmut
Tom Trbojevic tries on a specially made Manly Sea Eagles NFL helmut ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Aloiai and Brooks, however, weren’t such big fans. For them, it’s all about the UFC.

“We got to meet Cody Garbrandt - he invited us to his sparring the other day, which was a real privilege,” Samoa forward Aloiai said. “He wants to come along to the game.”

Brooks - making his Sea Eagles bow this week - added: “..and Aljermain Sterling. For me, that’s pretty high up there. I never thought I’d get to see some UFC fighters spar. We loved it.

“I’m too shy to ask for a selfie. I just let ‘em go. I think Josh [did].”

Lighting up Las Vegas: Cherry-Evans x Walker

Tom Trbojevic reflected “we don’t normally win in round one so we’re calling it round zero” - a perspective DCE regarded as quirky but accurate.

For the travelling Australian media, the smaller dimensions of the playing field was the story.

“You have to do a lot better job in the middle to create space on the edges,” said Aloiai. 

Brooks added: “On the field today it definitely felt pretty tight”.

No-one felt the pressure to entertain - that was down to the rules of the sport. But entertain they will.

Cook, the Rabbitohs hooker, predicted: “It’s going to be tight in the middle - I feel it’s going to be a big bash-up between ourselves and Manly.”

If the US readers aren’t impressed by familial endeavour, then a bash-up should get their attention. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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