Isaac John always had his eye on making it to the NRL. Born in Hamilton, and growing up in Tokoroa, a town of less than 10,000 people near Hamilton, New Zealand he was always around rugby league.
A talented junior he represented the Junior Kiwis at the age of 18 and played for the New Zealand Warriors Under 20s side in 2008. Come 2009 and he was playing in the NRL for his boyhood club.
After two years in the NRL he took up an option to head to England with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats for the 2012 season where the initial move was difficult.
He only spent a season in England before returning to the NRL with the Penrith Panthers and linking up with former mentor and Warriors coach Ivan Cleary. There John played the best and most consistent football of his career.
He was rewarded with a spot in the Cook Islands’ 2013 World Cup squad where he played all three matches for the side.
In 2014 he went a step higher and made his debut for the New Zealand Kiwis in the ANZAC Test. A week later his season ended due to an ACL injury.
In 2016 he signed with the Manly Sea Eagles but didn’t take the field. It was during this season John began weighing up his options.
He no longer felt a passion for football and while he signed on with Mount Pritchard in the NSW Cup for the 2017 season, rugby league was no longer what he wanted to be doing.
Throughout 2016 he worked alongside NRL players and long-time friends Corey Norman and James Segeyaro on their clothing company – YKTR.
Born out of friendly banter at their sharehouse, their clothing company was co-founded by all three of them with John taking on the role of web designer, marketer, social media manager and everything in between.
John talks throughout this interview about his decision to walk away from rugby league, a sport he’d played his entire life, and focus on building a clothing business from the ground up, including the many challenges and difficulties he’s faced being an entrepreneur as well as an athlete.