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Jawai announces homecoming to Cairns

The CQUniversity Cairns Taipans today welcomed home Nathan Jawai on a three-year deal. The 209-centimetre big man returns to where his career began, first with the Taipans Academy before an NBL Rookie of the Year campaign with the Snakes in 2007/08. Jawai’s return marks a reunion with Taipans head coach Aaron Fearne, who mentored Jawai as a junior before preparing him for his journey to the NBA’s Toronto Raptors. Fearne will now train Jawai for July’s Australian Boomers selection camp before Taipans training camp commences. “I’m extremely excited to have Nate returning to the Taipans, and I know he’s very pleased to be back home,” Fearne said. “He’s an amazing athlete, he has an extremely high basketball IQ and has played internationally with some of the best players in the world. “He’s a guy who steps on the court and other teams say, ‘Alright, what are we doing to stop this guy?’ Jawai arrived in Cairns yesterday, and will immediately commence a gruelling training regime back under Fearne’s tutelage. “He’s got some work ahead of him, and he’ll get there. And when he does, he’ll be a very dominant player in this league,” Fearne said. As part of the deal securing his return, Jawai will assume the role of ambassador for the Cairns Taipans Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Initiative, an expansion of the club’s existing Sea Swift Taipans Indigenous Programme, in conjunction with the Queensland Government. Taipans CEO Mark Beecroft said: “Nathan’s return is not only about recruiting one of our homegrown basketball stars back to the Taipans, but an opportunity for him to give back to Indigenous communities in the region." “This is a long-term arrangement that will also offer employment opportunities to Nathan once his playing career has finished." Queensland Treasurer and Minister for Sport Curtis Pitt said Jawai had a special place in the hearts of locals. “This community-owned club just keeps going from strength to strength but they needed a bit of help to secure one of Australia’s greatest ever players and I was happy to help,” Mr Pitt said. “We’ve contracted Nate to work with the Queensland Government and Taipans Indigenous Program to promote healthy lifestyles and wellbeing in indigenous communities across Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands. “As a boy from Bamaga, Nathan is a remarkable role model for locals, as an athlete he has surpassed everyone’s wildest dreams and as an ambassador he’s an outstanding example of how hard work can overcome adversity. “I know his presence on court will boost both attendance numbers and local participation numbers and I’m thrilled to be able to play even a small part in helping bring an NBA talent back to Queensland." After more than eight years showcasing his talents across the globe, Jawai says he will relish the additional responsibility of representing his home town once again. “I’m excited to be back, and I’m looking forward to showing the Orange Army how much I’ve improved since I last played for them,” he said. “Working with ‘Fearnie’ was one of the main reasons for my return; he’s been a mentor for me throughout my whole career.” “He’s holding me to a huge responsibility with this team and I’m looking forward to that pressure.” Equally important to Jawai is the impact he can have in Indigenous communities as a role model. “I have been lucky enough to have a good career, and I love working with these kids to share my experiences and to hopefully inspire them,” Jawai said. “The opportunity to work with the Taipans Indigenous Programme alongside [former Taipan] Kerry Wililiams was one I couldn’t turn down and a key reason I’m back home.” “[Taipans CEO] Mark Beecroft did a lot of work to get me back home, and the last thing I want to do is let him down after all his hard work. He worked hard for the fans here to ensure I signed, and I couldn’t be thankful enough to him." But, after winning an NBL championship with the Perth Wildcats last season, Jawai says he won’t be happy with anything less in Cairns. “I don’t want to come back and just have a great regular season only to be disappointed at the end of the playoffs.” Jawai’s three-year contract includes European league and NBA opt-out clauses. He will reclaim Taipans jersey #15.
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