Norths captain Jack Ahearn has finally got his man.
Jon Reuben has landed at Bishop Park, two years after causing havoc against the Devils.
Reuben brings the speed and skill that made him the Intrust Super Cup winger of the year in 2019 when he scored 23 tries in 19 matches for the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Two of those tries came against the Devils in a Country Week clash in Nanango, when Reuben twice scorched down the field to find himself one-on-one with his great mate Ahearn.
The pair became close when they were fresh out of school in the Canberra Raiders system, last playing together in 2013 when they were both named in the Toyota Cup team of the year.
Their friendship has only strengthened despite their different paths to the Intrust Super Cup.
As always, the pair spoke before that Country Week clash in 2019.
“I said to Jack: if we get one-on-one in the game, which way am I going? He laughed and said ‘you’ll be going outside’,” Reuben recalls with a huge smile.
“And I did go outside and I was lucky enough to just get away from Jack but it wasn’t easy.”
Reuben switched to the Redcliffe Dolphins for the sole round played last year before COVID shut down the season.
And then Ahearn set about getting Reuben to join him and coach Rohan Smith for the Devils’ 89th season.
“Jack was in my ear a lot last year telling me to come to Norths and it sounded good,” Reuben said.
“I’ve loved being here since we started pre-season training in November. There is a very good culture here.”
Reuben, 27, injects serious speed into a Devils backline that includes some familiar faces from 2020 including halfback Bryce Donovan, Queensland Residents centre Connor Broadhurst and Tony Tumusa.
In 2015, Reuben returned from stints with Canberra and the Sydney Roosters to join the Blackhawks’ inaugural season in Townsville, where he scored a remarkable 70 tries from as many matches for his hometown team.
The chance of a pre-season with the Melbourne Storm lured Reuben to the Falcons, whose 2019 season was astonishing until an unexpected loss in the finals series.
Reuben still harbours hopes of an NRL debut but that’s not his driving force this season.
“I’m just focusing on playing well for Norths and being around this group of guys. If (an NRL) opportunity comes up, that would be great, but it’s not my focus,” he said.
Ahearn, who will link in the back three with Reuben, said on-field abilities weren’t the primary reason that he wanted his mate to join Norths.
“Above anything, Jon is just one of the most outstanding people you will ever meet,” Ahearn said.
“Good clubs are built around good people and there are none better than Jon.”
Reuben works at St James’ College, where he is the Indigenous Engagement and Cultural Officer at a school renowned for its excellent work with its students.
While Ahearn and some other Devils played basketball last winter, Reuben made the switch to rugby union, playing Premier Grade a few suburbs away with Norths.
While he enjoyed the experience, he is rapt to return for another Intrust Super Cup season which is looming fast heading into next month’s opening trial matches.
“I can’t wait to get on the field again. It’s been a long wait but it will be worth it,” Reuben said.