North Sydney Bears hooker Brad Deitz might have missed out on the chance to make his first grade debut with the Sydney Roosters last season but he’s got nothing but respect for the player who beat him to the punch in Sam Verrills.
The pair were vying for a chance to be back-up hooker to Roosters co-captain Jake Friend as they shared the duties at dummy-half for the Bears earlier in the season.
But it was Verrills who prevailed after making his NRL debut in Round 9 against the Melbourne Storm, before going on to fill in for the veteran when he was injured for a large part of the season.
“Last year it was pretty neck and neck, especially with Jake (Friend) there now and Sammy was doing pre-season straight out of (under) 20’s,” Deitz told The Short Side Podcast.
“It was understandable, they got a pretty good idea of what he was like and the staff at the Roosters didn’t know me too well…it was a tricky time, we were both going head-to-head but obviously Sammy got the nod there.
“He’s played pretty well so far, he got a Grand Final ring and premiership out of it, he’s cheering and helped them (the Roosters) along the way.
“But reserve grade is hard and you keep an eye out for other opportunities but you just want to play good week in, week out, especially at the Bears, because I love playing at the Bears.”
Since the partnership with reigning premier Sydney Roosters began in 2019, the North Sydney Bears have had a host of Canterbury Cup NSW graduates who have made the transition into the NRL, including Verrills, Josh Curran, Billy Smith, and Lachlan Lam.
It’s a strong reflection of the partnership between the two foundation clubs, who have thrived under head coach Jason Taylor, and Deitz believes the professionalism has filtered through to the Bears inner sanctum.
“Yeah it’s been great, obviously the North Sydney Bears have a lot of history themselves, and I’ve been there (for a while) and this will be my fourth year this year (in 2020),” Deitz said.
“I love the club, and since they linked up with the Roosters last year, their professionalism filters all the way through and a couple of us, like myself, Max Bailey and Tom Freebairn, got to train with them in pre-season this year so that a great experience.
“It was encouraging to see that link between the two clubs is a genuine link, and there is a pathway through for the blokes in reserve grade.”