Local Jamaican, the Duhaney Park Red Sharks’ centre, Renaldo ‘WD’ Wade, can’t wait to take his place at the 2018 Americas Championship.
Wade, who scored a hat trick for his side in the domestic Grand Final, has more reasons than most to want to make his name on the wider stage. He knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity. The devoted father of a two-year-old daughter, he has lived in some of the capital Kingston’s toughest neighbourhoods.
“Living in the inner city and playing rugby league for my country has made me into a man my community looks up to,” said Wade, who first debuted for Jamaica in 2011. “It made me very disciplined, going to practice and matches, which has always been a challenge because of a lack of money. A lot of the time I had to walk there.
“But it is something I love. Playing for the national team has made me a better person, that’s when I started to realise that people were watching me and that I needed to present myself in a respectable manner.”
It was rugby league that enabled Wade to escape the cycle of violence and despair that affected many young men he grew up with.
“Playing for the Warriors has also given me a lot of travel exposure and experiences I wouldn’t otherwise have had,” he noted. “If it wasn’t for rugby I probably wouldn’t have left the island, so it has been my way to avoid the crime in my community.”
The 29-year-old is currently unemployed but dreams of playing semi-professional rugby league – one of the reasons why he can’t wait to join up with the rest of the squad, the bulk of whom will be travelling over from England where some of them make their living from the sport.