NRL: Kiwi cult hero Valynce Te Whare saves career with gutbusting weight loss regime

NRL cult hero Valynce Te Whare has seemingly saved his flagging career with a gutbusting weight-loss regime that saw him shed almost 10kg over the Christmas-New Year break.

The Waikato-born and raised centre made a sensational debut for the Brisbane-based Dolphins with a try double against Cronulla Sharks in May 2023 and went on to make 12 appearances, scoring six tries, for the season.

Weighing in at about 120kg, he earned the nickname 'Val Meninga', compared to Aussie league legend and current Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga, but drew the ire of supercoach Wayne Bennett, when he turned up to a pre-season bootcamp even further out of condition.

Valynce Te Whare scores a try for the Dolphins.
Valynce Te Whare scores a try for the Dolphins. Photo credit: Getty Images

"We all see his potential," Bennett observed last season. "He's got to lose a bit of weight and commit himself to his diet."

Word from across the Tasman is Te Whare, 23, has been welcomed back to the Dolphins, after an intensive programme that has reduced his weight closer to 110kg.

"He came to me around 122-123kg and he weight in this week at just under 114kg, so he lost about nine kilos," boxing trainer Mark 'Chopper' Burgess told News Corp.

"He has changed his mindset completely. I couldn't believe he was the same bloke who came to me last month - it's impressive.

"Talking to Wayne, he is ecstatic with Val's weight."

Te Whare, a former King Country and Waikato rugby representative, returned to New Zealand over the holidays, regularly tramping and cycling, while sticking to strict eating guidelines.

"Nothing out-trains a bad diet," said Burgess. "We had a saying - 'no carbs after 7 or you go to heaven', so Val really overhauled his diet.

"He's been prepared to take advice and he has made a genuine effort to lose weight."

Upon returning to Australia, Te Whare has fallen under the guidance of a support team that includes Kiwis legend Stephen Kearney.

"Val is really humble," said Burgess. "Initially, I had my doubts, as did a lot of people, but we've invested the time into Val and he's responded.

"He just has to maintain his attitude now and he has the talent to do anything in rugby league."