Competition for places in the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks’ back line will continue throughout season 2018, but Newcastle-bound Jesse Ramien has flatly denied suggestions that his future will play a part in coach Shane Flanagan’s calculations.
The club’s back five have already undergone changes two weeks into the season; Sione Katoa’s broken jaw brought Aaron Gray into the Round 2 side, while Josh Dugan and Valentine Holmes have each had a turn at fullback. The Sharks’ Thursday night loss to the Dragons has sparked calls for further changes, however, with one-time NRL centre Ramien a likely candidate.
Having signed with the Newcastle Knights from 2019 onwards, Ramien’s NRL chances were thought to have been compromised – but the 20-year-old explains that’s not the case.
“No, definitely not,” Jesse Ramien told NSWRL.com.au. “All my focus and the club’s focus is on this year and I’ll do what’s best for the team. If that’s having me down (in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW) until ‘Flanno’ (Flanagan) thinks I’m ready to play, I’m more than happy doing what’s best for the team.
“I’ve been working really hard on my game and I’m hoping I can get a spot in that top grade – that’s what I’m pushing for this year, to get a few more games under my belt.”
Outside of a memorable NRL debut in Round 26, Ramien has only had limited time in open-age Rugby League, but this year finds himself in a Newtown side which has been impressive in two outings. A grinding mentality helped the team in Thursday’s 24-12 win over the Dragons – and is likely to help the defensive side of Ramien’s game.
“Very happy with (the win), coming off an upset last week against Wyong when we held in there, but got done right at the end,” Ramien said. “We realised that we just need to build a bit more pressure and we had a bit of work to do finishing off our sets. We worked on that really hard this week at training and it paid off.”
“Our game plan was to just calmly grind and grind and grind – points will come. I thought we stuck to that pretty well and it gave us a result in the end.”
The Jets’ next game will be against the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at HE Laybutt Fields on Sunday, 25 March – but if the call comes from Flanagan, Ramien will not be there. At NRL level, the Sharks will take on the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, 24 March.