Connor Broadhurst has been among the most consistent faces in a Norths “next-man-up” squad that will look much different in Cairns tonight to the Devils team that last played there.
Broadhurst is set to be one of nine Devils from the last 17-man squad that met the Northern Pride on the road and he’s likely to be playing in a different position.
Such is the life of a Devils team that remains in the top four after a period of change since its premiership win last October.
Coach Rohan Smith and six players have since departed for fulltime systems, opening opportunities for more players.
“We really look at it as the next-man-up,” Broadhurst said.
“Everyone is rapt for Ro and those players who have moved on but we’re still excited about what we can do this season.”
Broadhurst has been a constant at the Devils in recent seasons, providing experience and versatility that was invaluable in last year’s premiership run.
He moved from his preferred centre position into the five-eighth role when asked by Smith, despite having relatively limited experience closer to the scrum during his senior career.
With the No.6 jersey on his back, Broadhurst even stepped up when the Devils needed him to slot one of the most important conversions in the club’s history with just six minutes remaining in last year’s grand final.
Broadhurst had kicked twice in the Devils’ stunning try against Wynnum Manly and was walking back to prepare for the restart when he was asked to kick the goal.
“Tyrone (Roberts) had gone off and I hadn’t even given it a thought until I was asked to kick,” Broadhurst said.
It wasn’t easy – Broadhurst was closer to the sideline than the posts and the wind slamming through Dolphin Oval would test an in-form kicker. Broadhurst hadn’t kicked for weeks.
“I hadn’t practised because I didn’t really expect to kick but that was probably a good thing in hindsight,” he said.
Broadhurst nailed the conversion which sent the Devils clear by six points and on to a much-cherished premiership. It was Broadhurst’s second after his triumph with Burleigh in 2016.
“It’s been great to win but I probably won’t think too much about those things until after I finish playing,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing at Norths and we’ve got a really good group here even with players who have come and gone. There’s always an opportunity.”
The Devils will meet a Pride team that toppled Souths Logan Magpies two weeks ago before enjoying a weekend off during the split round.
The Devils are looking forward to the trip away after three consecutive home games, including consecutive losses to Melbourne Storm feeder clubs Brisbane Tigers and Sunshine Coast Falcons in the last two rounds.
That marked the Devils’ first consecutive losses in the regular season for almost three years.