An old junior teammate has laid out the directions for Danny Levi to follow on his arrival at Norths Devils.
Levi joined the Devils this week, ready to follow a well-worn path of players from Bishop Park into the NRL.
Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Matt King are just a few of those names along with Pride Petterson-Robati, who has strong connections with Levi.
They played against each other as juniors in Wellington, New Zealand – Levi with the Randwick Kingfishers and Petterson-Robati with the Upper Hutt Tigers.
They played together in junior representative teams and then spent one year together at the Newcastle Knights.
Petterson-Robati arrived at the Devils in 2019 seeking a start in the NRL and he’s now in the New Zealand Warriors’ fulltime squad along with Levi’s old Newcastle teammate Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, also a former Devil.
Levi, 25, also wants an NRL berth, only he already has more than 100 games of NRL experience and Test match exposure with the Kiwis. He played 20 of those NRL matches as hooker with Manly last year.
Levi’s record is one of the best among fulltime Intrust Super Cup players in recent years and he’s looking forward to playing with the Devils.
“I knew my contract with Manly was only for one year and I really enjoyed that but I was looking for a new start and the Devils is the best option for me,” Levi said.
“The rugby league world has been a bit different because of COVID so things change quickly. I’ve only been at Norths for a week but there is a good vibe at this club and I can’t wait to get started.”
Levi is living in Brisbane with his partner Kimberley Goodearl and their daughter Nylah, 17 months. The chance for Nylah to live near her cousins was among the reasons that Levi moved to Brisbane after the 2020 NRL season ended.
Levi has been willing to move and take on new challenges since he and Bulldogs hooker Sione Katoa moved together from Wellington to Sydney as 14-year-olds to play with the Sydney Roosters’ Harold Matthews Cup team.
Levi made his NRL debut with the Knights as a 19-year-old and attracted attention from his first tackle as he brought down a charging Andrew Fifita.
Levi’s four Test matches for the Kiwis in 2017 are a career highlight.
“My family was there which meant a lot to me,” Levi said.
“My father became interested in rugby league when I was young and we didn’t have a coach for our junior team so he stepped in. Ever since then, he’s really grown to love the game.
“I’ve had a lot of great experiences and I know there is still more to offer so I’m excited about this season.
“The chance to play at Norths came up earlier this month and I had a coffee with (coach) Rohan Smith to talk about the club and the season ahead.
The rugby league world is interconnected – Smith was on the Roosters’ coaching staff when Levi was at the club as a teenager and then coached against Levi in later years.
“Ro and I had a good conversation and I’m looking forward to getting started here,” Levi said.