Jamal a hit – even if he didn’t play

Former NRL star Jamal Idris helps members of Wingham's under 18 team with a raffle at the Wingham Sporting Complex. He didn't play but was a big hit.

Former NRL star Jamal Idris helps members of Wingham's under 18 team with a raffle at the Wingham Sporting Complex. He didn't play but was a big hit.

HE didn’t make his Group Three debut with the Wingham Tigers but former National Rugby League (NRL) star Jamal Idris made a big impression at the club’s annual charity day at the Wingham Sporting Complex on the weekend.

The Tigers gained a clearance from the Penrith Panthers early last week for Indris to play in the match against Old Bar and as late as Wednesday he was in the side.

Wingham captain-coach Kurt Lewis named Idris in the front row and the club hoped he might be available for more matches this year.

His cousin, Thomas Dooker, now plays for the Tigers.

The day was Wingham’s annual charity fund-raiser and clubs are permitted to have guest players – usually ex-NR stars.

However, Wingham treasurer Craig Martin said word came through late last week that Idris wouldn’t be playing and this was confirmed on Friday afternoon.

Martin understands Idris’s manager intervened and wouldn’t let him play.

There is speculation this has to do with Idris’s next career move as he is understood to be considering offers to play rugby union in France..

Despite this Martin said Idris was a big hit with the crowd at Wingham.

“He arrived at the ground at 1pm – he helped sell the doubles and the raffle, signed autographs and had his photo taken,’’ Martin said.

“The kids loved him.’’

Idris also attended the charity auction held that evening and was an enthusiastic bidder for some of the items.

More than $6000 was raised and this will assist the Asthma Foundation, the Cancer Council and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

“I thought we’d get a bit of backlash when Jamal didn’t play, but we didn’t. But we didn’t – it was all good,’’ Martin said.

The former Forster local attended Great Lakes College before moving to Sydney to foster his interest in athletics, especially javelin. Following several representative seasons in athletics, Idris took up rugby league in high school.

As a junior he played for several Sydney-based clubs and his home team, the Forster Tuncurry Hawkes. As a professional he played for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Gold Coast Titansand Penrith Panthers in the NRL. He has also represented the Indigenous All Stars.