NRL star James Tamou spent days over the Christmas break helping extended family fight to save homes from bushfires that raged on the south coast.
NRL star James Tamou spent days over the Christmas break helping extended family fight to save homes from bushfires that raged on the south coast.

‘People were in tears, had nothing left and kept fighting’

Penrith prop James Tamou said he has seen moments of great courage playing in the NRL but it pales to the heroics and Aussie spirit and grit he witnessed while caught up in the bushfire drama for six days south of Sydney.

One of the best known players in the game, over Christmas Tamou was just one of an army of Australians battling to help fight devastating blazes across the country.

"This has touched me. Some of the people I saw were in tears, they had broken down, had nothing left,'' Tamou said.

"Then they got up, kept fighting. I have drawn strength from it, these mums and dads, retirees.

"I gained strength from these people. They were working tirelessly to make a dent in this terrifying, frigging bushfire.''

"Christmas Day, Boxing Day, six or seven days in a row we were back and forth lending a hand,'' he said.

"We could tell the number of firefighters was pretty thin. They were happy to have another set of hands there.

"They said get on the hose and defend the road where cars can come in and out.''

James Tamou plays for Penrith Panthers. Picture: Phil Hillyard
James Tamou plays for Penrith Panthers. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Tamou said while his extended family's homes were all saved he will never forget the intensity of the fire.

"There was one situation I felt powerless. We were surrounded. Flames were climbing up trees and we were doing our best to put them out,'' he said.

"We heard a voice saying ' get the heck out of there'. None of us wanted to leave. It was scary.

"The smoke was just so think.''

Tamou has thrown his weight behind the Panthers Firefighter Fundraiser during a special open training session at Panthers Stadium on Saturday morning.

Panthers' Community Coordinator Mariah Broadbridge said Regentville RFS will be attending with a truck on Saturday unless they need to be somewhere else for an emergency.

 

Fans will receive a free barbecue thanks to Sarraf Strata and Sydney Direct Fresh Produce has donated fresh fruit.

Jubilee Amusements has donated a jumping castle and teacup ride to help keep kids entertained and fans can keep hydrated with free bottles of water from Nepean Valley Pure Water.

Barber 'Nate Da Barber' and his crew will provide donated haircuts in exchange for a $25 donation.

If you have a service you would like to donate to the fundraiser, get in touch with the Panthers via social media or call 1300 PANTHERS.

 

James Tamou during a match against the Canterbury Bulldogs. Picture: AAP
James Tamou during a match against the Canterbury Bulldogs. Picture: AAP

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