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Sharks Kyle Flanagan and Blayke Brailey in the under-20s.

They've been teammates since they started out in the under-8s for the Aquinas Colts some 15 seasons ago.

And while Sharks hooker Blayke Brailey and new Roosters halfback Kyle Flanagan will be opponents this year, the pair has a unique bond that was forged during their younger days.

Brailey and Flanagan, who ticked off a dream by playing in the NRL together for the Sharks in 2019, won 10 consecutive premierships with the Colts in the local Cronulla competition.

Electric Sharks centre Bronson Xerri played up a year in their team some seasons. Brailey's older brother Jayden, who debuted for Cronulla in 2017 but is now at Newcastle, also represented Aquinas.

But for all the trophies and accolades they earned as juniors, Brailey considers the people he met and the life lessons he learned to have been the best parts of playing community league.

"I played because all my friends were, my brother [Jayden] did and I come from a football family," Brailey told

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"I made lifelong friends through playing football ... The people I played with, I'm still in contact with them, I see them every week and they're my closest friends.

"It's a big family at Aquinas. Everyone looks after each other there. Everyone's there to help you. I felt a really strong connection.

"[I loved] just getting outdoors, staying healthy. I wasn't really much of an indoor sort of person, so any chance to get outdoors I was there."

Brailey said rugby league had taught him the value of resilience.

"There were teams I didn't make, there were positions I didn't want to play, but everything worked out as it is now," he said.

"I think not making those teams made me work harder and if I did make them I don't know if I'd be here [in the NRL] right now."

The 21-year-old, who is expected to own Cronulla's No.9 jersey in 2020, was always on the smaller side growing up.

Focusing on his tackling technique and attacking prowess helped him defy the doubters and reach the top.

"Don't be too worried about your weight," Brailey said in encouraging kids to sign up for community league.

"Just be smart, you'll find a way. Coming through the grades, I was always told I was too small and I needed to put on weight but you always find a way. Just work on your skill, really."

Blayke Brailey's brotherly bond and his first try

Brailey and Flanagan will clash when the Sharks host the Roosters at Netstrata Jubilee Oval in round five.

Having played with Flanagan at school, junior rep, Canterbury Cup and NRL level, Brailey has a sixth sense about his mate's game.

"We sort of have a feeling where I know what he's going to do and he knows what I am before we even do it," Brailey said.

"Those connections were built at a young age and really came to play in first grade."

Community league registrations are open. To join in the fun, find a club at

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