A coffee with an old coach sparked an unlikely journey for Danny Levi that will end with Sunday’s Intrust Super Cup grand final.
Levi wasn’t sure of the next step in his decorated rugby league career before he caught up with Norths Devils coach Rohan Smith last summer.
Their casual coffee sparked Levi’s wish to sign with the Devils in his quest to return to the NRL.
The move worked – Levi was electric for the Devils early in 2021, convincing the Brisbane Broncos to sign him for the NRL season.
With the NRL season finished, Levi has come back to Bishop Park to aid Norths’ premiership campaign which culminates with Sunday’s decider against Wynnum Manly Seagulls at Redcliffe’s Moreton Daily Stadium.
“It’s really been one of my most enjoyable years playing footy,” Levi said.
“It’s worked our really well because I caught up with Rohan because I know that he plays a style of footy that lets everyone use the strengths of their game. I can see why so many players want to come and play with him.
“I wanted to get back to the NRL and I thought playing with the Devils was a good way to do that.
“I have loved being around the Devils boys this year – the culture here and the bond between the boys is really strong. Now we get a chance to play in a grand final and that’s always exciting and something that every player treasures.”
Levi had been in the Sydney Roosters system as a teenager when Smith was an assistant coach at the NRL club.
Smith later coached against Levi before the pair reunited last summer as the hooker began his quest to return to the NRL. Levi, 25, now has more than 100 NRL appearances under his belt and four Test matches with New Zealand.
He moved to Brisbane with partner Kimberley Goodearl and their daughter Nylah, 2, who could spend more time living near her cousins.
The family will pack up again soon to move to the UK after Levi signed with Huddersfield in the Super League – a smart recruiting decision by the Giants after Levi’s form in 2021.
He was again impressive as the Devils raced to a 20-0 lead against Burleigh Bears in last Sunday’s preliminary final.
Levi will feature in an unchanged Devils’ spine for the grand final with skipper Jack Ahearn and halves Connor Broadhurst and Tyrone Roberts.
“We’ve worked up a really good combination and we know what we’re going to do,” Levi said.
“If I’m going out of hooker, they can read it and they’re pushing up with me. It’s a good feeling to have as a group.
“But our defence has also been something special to us this year. It doesn’t always get noticed but we take a lot of pride in it. That shows how much the boys are willing to do for each other.”
Photo: Alan Drinnen