Curtis Scott proudly paraded the Provan-Summons trophy and his NRL premiership ring around ANZ Stadium last Sunday night, just two years after playing and winning the SG Ball competition for the Cronulla Sharks.
Captain of the Sharks side that lifted both the SG Ball and National Championship trophies that year, Scott was earmarked as a star of the future and immediately recruited into the then-newly found NSW Pathways Program, run by Jamie Feeney.
Now 19 years old and living Melbourne, Scott has achieved plenty in two years, including a NSW Under-18s appearance in which he was the captain, two NSW Under-20s victories, a NSW Under-20s Player of the Year award, a contract with the current best club in the NRL, and of course an NRL premiership.
He also broke his leg last year that hindered his already fast-tracked progression, highlighting the strength of the Melbourne Storm system, the NSWRL Pathways Program and the character of the man himself.
NSWRL Performance Programs Manager Jamie Feeney, who played for the Storm in 2005 and 2006, understands the culture built within at Melbourne and is thrilled that Scott chose to sign with them when he had 11 contract offers come his way last year.
“He’s the first one to win a competition [from the NSW Pathways Program], there has been quite a few that have been there every year who have gone on to play NRL like Campbell Graham, Cam Murray, Nat Butcher and Nick Cotric,” says Feeney.
“I had a conversation with him about moving down to Melbourne as he heard how hard it is, and there were multiple clubs chasing him after his breakout season in Australian Schoolboys and with Cronulla.
“You could see that he was always a leader within our program, we don’t really push them in terms of fitness, but as long as he would work hard, wouldn’t give up and was tough – which he was – he was always going to survive in Melbourne.”
It’s gone beyond survival for Scott, who is no doubt still celebrating the wonderful 34-6 NRL Grand Final victory over the North Queensland Cowboys on Sunday night with his teammates.
At the end of the day, he is still a 19-year-old kid that loves life and rides around Melbourne on a motorbike, but he is remarkably switched on both on and off the field for a person at such a young age.
NSW legend and under-20s coach Danny Buderus thoroughly enjoyed having Scott around camp back in May when the junior Blues came from behind to win their sixth victory in a row 30-16 at Suncorp Stadium.
“He got the coaches award just on the back of doing all of the things that makes a good first grader,” says Buderus.
“Good outside backs these days have to have really good leg-drive on their early tackle plays; he’s consistent, and he has the Melbourne Storm mentality where he’ll do everything he can to find his front.
“To win a competition at this age is a testament to him and he’s made the right decisions to be in that team; he obviously trained hard to win the trust of team-mates and coach Craig Bellemy so it’s a credit to himself.
“If NSW has played a small part in that then that’s great, but I’m sure most of what Curtis has achieved has come off the back of hard work.”
The Melbourne Storm system is widely regarded as one of the best and most professional in Australian sport, and it’s no coincidence that they’ve been the powerhouse club in the NRL for over a decade.
Feeney believes that if he stays at the Storm he will develop quicker and better than anywhere else, which shapes him for a potential State of Origin jersey in years to come.
“Curtis has grown hanging around all of those players and the culture is just outstanding down there, all you’ve got to do is your job and you don’t have to do anyone else’s,” Feeney says.
“You’re nearly over-prepared at times, but you’re never overwhelmed by what goes on; they always seem to be calm, even ‘Scotty’ at 19, he plays like a seasoned professional because they’re so well prepared.
“I messaged him after the Grand Final just letting him know that everyone here is proud of him and what he’s done, and hopefully looking forward to the next step in our Blues pathway, which is first grade State of Origin.
“He’s certainly got the potential, but there’s no reason why blokes like him, Cam Murray, Nick Cotric and more can’t make it [to Origin level].
“He’ll really enjoy [the premiership] but he’s not going to think ‘I’ve made it now,’ he’ll work hard and they’ll keep him grounded down in Melbourne anyway.”
Buderus shares the sentiments that Scott is a future Origin player, given he has achieved so much already at such a young age.
“He’s very confident in his ability and making other players better around him, you can only imagine what a successful finals series and wearing a Grand Final ring will do for his game.
“When he’s involved in that system down there he will keep making the right choices, he’ll keep listening to the right people and he’s not far off an Origin jersey in years to come.
“I love the standard’s he’s been delivering week in, week out; he loves a challenge.”
While Scott only played his first game for Melbourne for the year in Round 15 against the Cowboys where he scored two tries, he played the finals series and took on the likes of James Roberts and Michael Jennings like he’d been playing there for years.
We’ve only seen the start of Curtis Scott, who will light up the NRL and possibly the representative arena in many years to come.