Jacob Gagan will be among the Norths Devils’ French connection heading to Suncorp Stadium this weekend to continue the most unlikely of travelling adventures during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While lockdowns have prevented most from leaving their local areas, Gagan has never travelled more than since the pandemic began.
As Covid hit, Gagan was leaving Sydney for the first time in his life, bound for a new contract with the Norths Devils.
When the 2020 Intrust Super Cup season was cancelled after one game, Gagan and his young family headed for France.
He joined FC Lezignan – the former club of Devils teammates Leivaha Pulu (pictured, left) Bernard Gregorius (pictured, centre with Gagan, right) – to play footy while many domestic competitions were sidelined.
When the French season finished in June, Gagan returned to Brisbane, completing two weeks in hotel quarantine before joining the Devils’ finals quest.
That will take him to Sunday’s preliminary final against Burleigh Bears at Suncorp Stadium.
“It’s all been a bit strange because I had never lived outside of Sydney before I moved up here to Norths and now I’ve been travelling a lot since then,” Gagan said.
“Living in France was a great experience and now it’s been really good getting to the Devils. Rohan (Smith) is a great coach and he inspires us to try a lot of things in the game, knowing we can play football and back ourselves,” Gagan said.
“It’s been fun so far and we’re all really looking forward to the weekend.”
Gagan’s trip north was inspired by his former South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold, who was coaching the Brisbane Broncos when he suggested Gagan head north.
Gagan, 28, has played NRL for Cronulla, Newcastle and South Sydney, earning his first start for the Rabbitohs as a replacement at centre for former Devil Greg Inglis.
He is experienced at centre, wing and fullback but all of his Devils appearances have been in the centres with flying winger Jon Reuben on his outside.
Gagan has settled well into Brisbane again with his fiancée Rachel Pitt and their son Chase, 3, and daughter Zara, 1. Gagan is a popular employee at Devils’ sponsor Altus Traffic.
Gagan and Rachel are yet to set a wedding date – Covid is making that too hard – but it won’t happen before the end of the current season as the Devils focus on their most important game of the year.
“I haven’t played before against Burleigh but I know they’re a quality team and we will need to play very well,” Gagan sad.
“I had to follow the first part of the Norths’ season from France so it’s been great to get back in here and get ready for the finals.”