As one of the most consistent hookers in the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership NSW, a switch to the Wentworthville Magpies has proven a challenge for Brad Deitz – but one which will help his career.
Deitz, who wore the No.9 jersey for the North Sydney Bears throughout most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons – including a stint as captain last year – signed with Wentworthville in November to continue his pursuit of an NRL debut. The 23-year-old has instead found himself getting limited game time in 2018, which has forced him to develop new skills.
“I’m doing a little bit of a different role this year, a couple of games off the bench so far,” Deitz told NSWRL.com.au. “Just looking to push my way into that starting team and earn the right to play here.
“There’s obviously a bit of depth at Parra with the hooking role and ‘Kingy’ (Cameron King) and Kaysa (Pritchard) are great players. For me to even just get an opportunity off the bench and learn a bit off them when they come down … it’s massive for me.
“It’s a little bit of a learning curve for me, so I take that in my stride.”
The extra versatility that’s required from a bench hooker will also add another string to Deitz’s bow as he looks to improve the Magpies’ fortunes on the field.
“Just being ready for whatever gets thrown at you (is the challenge),” Deitz said. “It’s easy going into a game, when you’re starting, to know what position you’re going to start at – but coming off the bench in that utility role you’ve got to be prepared to get chucked into somewhere you’re not 100% used to.
“It’s kind of exciting, at the same time, playing a different position if you need to and it just adds to my game.”
Deitz’s only two games of 2018 have come against the same opposition, with the hooker experiencing results on both ends of the spectrum. After a 46-0 thrashing at the hands of local rivals Blacktown in Round 2, the Magpies turned the tables with a fiery 28-12 victory in Round 5 – a match in which Deitz was sin-binned after one of the game’s several tense moments.
The rivalry between the two clubs, then, is not lost on the Wentworthville recruit.
“Yeah, there is a bit of feeling in the games between these two clubs,” Deitz said. “There’s a lot of ex-Wenty guys playing over at Workers this year, so there’s a lot of exchanges going on throughout the week. Always leads to a good game though.
“We expected they had a point to prove against us, because obviously they were here last year.”
Having snapped a four-game losing streak, things are now looking up for the Magpies as they head into a Round 6 bye. Their second win of the season came after the side returned to square one.
“We won our first game, but we’ve had a rough couple of weeks,” Deitz added. “This week it was just getting back to basics and getting a team mentality going.
“I thought we were a lot calmer out there (in Round 5), less errors and everyone was on the same page.”
After this weekend’s bye, the Magpies’ next match will come against the team they had an upset win over in Round 1. Wentworthville host the Penrith Panthers at ANZ Stadium from 11.45am on Saturday, 22 April.