I always believed that if I put the work in, I would create my own opportunities, and be lucky enough to end up playing in the NRL. But as a kid, playing for my local, Aquinas Colts it was just a dream. 

I remember as a young fella I would get to training an hour early just to kick and throw the ball around. But for me back then going through school it was all about my mates and winning. 

As time has flown by I’ve realised I had so many great memories running around in local footy with my mates that are now like brothers to me. I’ve always been so proud of my local club, it means so much to me… it’s like home. 

As the years went on I started playing development football for the Cronulla Sharks through the grades right up to the Holden Cup Under 20s. 

Right through each of those teams, footy was still my everything and I put everything into training and even more into each game. But as a junior it wasn’t always easy, I remember as a kid playing in the Harold Matthews comp getting sprayed that I was “only here because of the old man”. 

I guess I could say now, that motivated me to want it more and prove them wrong. 

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Old dog teaching new tricks #week1

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For me, it was important that people saw me as a good young player, rather than the Sharks coaches’ son. And so for that, I just sought to go about my business and be the best player I could for my team, and make sure my teammates knew that I had their back on every play.  

I remember talking to Nathan Cleary about it, and he went through the exact same thing. There’s only a handful of players in the game who are able to relate so having him in the same situation made it that little bit easier.

I’ve gained so much motivation with how he has stamped his own name on the competition, and that’s what I hope to be able to do for myself in the years to come.

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Unreal.

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It’s funny how things work out in life, I remember sitting in a our academy gym in Cronulla and being told that only 2% of you boys will go on to play in the NRL. 

At the time I missed out a couple of rep teams and had a couple of injuries and thought I was going to be one of them and it was over. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bye89YggBKS/

From that moment sitting in the gym I thought I’m going to give this a red-hot crack. 2017 was a successful year in the Holden Cup Competition as was 2018 playing for Newtown and making the grand final. Being part of these successful teams I went on to captain the NSW U/20S, was selected in the Junior Kangaroos and Freddy’s Emerging Origin Squad.

I remember the week when my old man called me into his office to let me know I’d be making my debut game against Newcastle, I had so many emotions going through my head. 

I never thought I would see the old boy tear up. The first thing I said is “have you told Mum”, it was a pretty special moment. Especially for myself, to share that moment with Dad… is a moment neither of us will ever forget. 

That week is a blur, but it still sticks with me when Paul Gallen pulled me aside and became such a mentor for me. 

He just told me to do my job and that was to make my tackles and kick well. To this day that’s the one thing I think about before I play. It was Round 24 against Newcastle at Shark Park in what was Luke Lewis last home game. 

I always have a laugh when I think about my debut, it was a nervous start I clipped Shaun Kenny-Dowall on the chin in my first tackle.  Lucky enough that day we won and made my debut next to club legends Paul Gallen and Wade Graham and a freak named Valentine Holmes.