Jamayne Taunoa-Brown was tempted by history when he took his rugby league journey from Melbourne to Norths Devils this season.
Taunoa-Brown is Melbourne born-and-bred and he knew of the Storm’s history with the Devils.
That connection was at its peak about 15 years ago when Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Matt King were playing with the Devils before they began their NRL careers in Melbourne.
Slater and King were unknown to the Storm before they began starring at Bishop Park and Taunoa-Brown, 21, wants to follow the path of the players he watched as a boy in Melbourne.
“I knew about that connection with Norths and it was one of the reasons I wanted to come here after I first met (new Devils coach) Rohan Smith,” Taunoa-Brown said.
“There is a great history here and it is a privilege to be part of that. I would love to play NRL down the track but for now I’m happy learning a lot here.”
Taunoa-Brown made an immediate impact at prop in his Devils debut last Sunday, charging for 126 metres in just 45 minutes of play in the win against Tweed Heads.
He was strong late in the tight match, showcasing the benefits of a strong off-season during which he shed seven kilograms without losing the shape that made him such a threat last Sunday.
His discipline has impressed Smith, who told Taunoa-Brown there would be no guarantees when he accepted the offer to play with Norths.
“He’s only 21 but he’s already been part of the Storm’s system and then went to Newcastle so he’s made some big moves for a young guy,” Smith said.
“He has focused very well in the pre-season and it has been good to see him prepare well for the start of the season.”
Taunoa-Brown is the eldest of five boys, all of whom play league in Melbourne. Taunoa-Brown puts that down to his father Brandon Taunoa, who left New Zealand as a young man to move to Melbourne.
Brandon brought his love of league to the AFL-mad city and kept it burning for his boys led by Jamayne, who began his junior career at age four.
Taunoa-Brown is now preparing for his first trip to Rockhampton, where the Devils will play the Central Queensland Capras on Saturday night.
The Devils have won their last 11 clashes with the Capras, including six in a row at Browne Park, but Taunoa-Brown admits he doesn’t know what to expect. The Capras defeated Easts 15-14 in their season-opener last weekend.
“It’s my first time in the Intrust Super Cup so I really don’t know much about the other teams but my first game was as tough and hard as I had expected,” he said.
“We have a lot of new players at Norths this year and I’ve really enjoyed being around them and hanging out with them. It’s been a lot of fun.”