If there’s a sign that football has returned to normal in 2021, it’s Michael Molo back in a Norths jersey.
Molo has worn a Norths jersey or a Devils emblem since he was six years old. His older brother Francis also wore one before he signed with the North Queensland Cowboys.
Last March, in the only Intrust Super Cup round before COVID cancelled the competition, Molo found himself playing against Norths.
He had moved to Mackay for a fresh challenge and lined up for the Cutters as they hosted the Devils on a steamy Saturday night.
“That was a bit weird playing against Norths but I enjoyed it because it’s always good to play against some of your mates. It was a tough game,” Molo said.
The Devils won that game 23-22 when captain Jack Ahearn slotted a late field goal.
COVID restrictions suffocated the league a few days later and Molo found himself 1000km from home without a competition to play in.
He returned to Brisbane where he played for Devils affiliate Wests Panthers in the Brisbane Rugby League competition before returning to Norths for this season.
He’ll line up for the Devils in Saturday night’s opening home trial match against Wynnum-Manly.
“It’s great to be back. There are really good vibes here and the training sessions are really enjoyable,” Molo said.
“A lot of players have spoken about how much they enjoy our training here. We’re not getting flogged every day and the skills side of it is really enjoyable.
“There’s a good intensity here and a desire to play well and that’s why I like playing here.”
The second youngest of six boys and two girls, Molo was shaped by fierce backyard footy games at the family’s northside Brisbane home.
Francis, three years older than Michael, was one of the Molo boys who helped to teach their younger brother how to cop the knocks and bruises of the game.
“I’ve been really proud of Francis and how his career has gone,” Molo said.
“He calls me or texts me every few days so we stay in touch regularly. He keeps a look out for me and gives me some tips which is good.”
Molo hopes to follow his older brother’s path from the Intrust Super Cup to the NRL.
At home in the middle or on the edge for the Devils, Molo has just celebrated his 24th birthday.
A regular in Queensland junior teams as a young player, Molo was a member of the Australian Schoolboys team and played in the Broncos Under 20 squad with the likes of Jayden Su’A, Lindsay Collins and Patrick Carrigan.
He made his Devils debut as an 18-year-old in 2015 and played with his brother in 2017. That makes Molo one of the few Devils in the squad to have Intrust Super Cup experience at the club before coach Rohan Smith arrived in 2018.
Teammates Jack Miers, Brendan Frei and Hiale Roycroft all played with Molo at the Devils Juniors.