Gavet's heartfelt prayers for Christchurch victims

Before and after Newcastle's 14-8 victory over Cronulla last Friday, James Gavet said a prayer for the victims of the Christchurch massacre and the families and friends left to mourn them.

The softly spoken hard man will do likewise before and after the Knights’ game against Penrith at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.

He and wife Gabriella have prayed many times in the past eight days as they try to process the tragic events that unfolded in New Zealand.

Gavet, who has family in Auckland and friends on the North and South Islands, was rocked last Friday when he heard news of the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.

Though born in Sydney, the 29-year-old Samoan international was raised in Auckland, is a product of the New Zealand Warriors’ development program, and played the past three NRL seasons for the Warriors after earlier stints at the Bulldogs, Wests Tigers and Broncos.

"I feel the pain that New Zealand is going through at the moment," Gavet told NRL.com.

Knights prop James Gavet.
Knights prop James Gavet. ©Shane Myers/NRL Photos

"Pretty much 90 per cent of my Facebook friends are Kiwis, and whether they're related or family friends, they're constantly sharing stuff and more and more updates about what's what, and who's passed away and the additional numbers.

"It was tragic for a little country like New Zealand to witness something like that – something you normally see on the news and happening in Europe or the United States.

"For something like that to happen so close to home, it's such a shock and a wake-up call for our country. Obviously we need to band together … and realise that this is going on around the world almost on a daily basis.

"That was the biggest thing that I took out of this. It's such a tragic thing and we're all feeling it.

"It's happening everywhere and we need to wake up and make some changes.

"Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, has done really well through this. She's been an amazing leader and really led by example because it's been nothing but peace and peaceful get-togethers back home since it happened."

Gavet applauded the gesture of his former club to throw open the gates at Mt Smart Stadium for their game against the Bulldogs last Saturday, which they won 40-6 in front of almost 19,000 fans.

He said he and other Knights players of New Zealand heritage, including Danny Levi, Hymel Hunt, Herman Ese’ese, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Mason Lino, were keen to offer tangible support when and where required.

Until then, he will continue to use the power of prayer.

"It's more of a private thing for me," he said.

"I'm a Christian man, and as a believer, there's nothing more concentrated or potent to send than a prayer. We've been constantly keeping them in our prayers, me and my wife, and thinking about them.

"I know they've raised quite a bit of money so far and anything we can do to help, we will, even if it's just to help show awareness about what’s been going on back there through social media.

"If they need me to do anything, I'm all hands on deck, but at the moment we're pretty much just sending our prayers – not only me, but all the Kiwi boys here."