Jacob Gagan has signed on for the Norths Devils for the next two seasons, ensuring a long stay at the club he seemed to take forever to join.
Gagan was set to join the Devils in 2020 but the Covid pandemic shut down the season and kept the NRL centre away from Bishop Park.
He then went to play in France before heading to the Devils in the middle of last year, just before the June 30 signing deadline.
Gagan then had two weeks’ mandatory Covid isolation in a Brisbane hotel before finally wearing a Norths jersey for the first time.
Gagan, 29, has been a favourite with Devils fans. He was a strong presence during the Devils’ premiership run last year and he has missed only one game this season ahead of Saturday’s home Hostplus Cup preliminary final against Sunshine Coast Falcons.
His signing for the next two seasons follows the decisions of co-captain Jack Ahearn and hooker Kierran Moseley to play with the Devils again in 2023.
“I really enjoy playing at Norths because everyone wants to play for each other and we’re a very close club,” Gagan said.
“There is a good feeling around the group and we’re all just excited to be playing again at this time of the year.”
There will be plenty of support for Gagan at Bishop Park on Saturday.
His fiancée Rachel Pitt and their children – Chase, 4, and Zara, 1 – are among the many young families of Devils players who keep the energy up on the sidelines.
And fans may spot some of the huge posters of Gagan’s face created by his work colleagues at Devils sponsor Altus Traffic Management.
Gagan is Altus’ Queensland Fleet Manager, although he missed some of the Altus end-of-financial-year party that was held at Bishop Park last month.
Gagan was playing against Ipswich Jets while his work colleagues partied, waving their posters from the hill.
“They’ve had a bit of fun with those but it’s a great place to work,” Gagan said.
“I’ve felt really settled here since joining Norths and it’s helped on the football field.”
Gagan made NRL appearances with South Sydney, Cronulla and Newcastle and his former Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold encouraged his move to the Devils.
Gagan is one of 10 survivors from the Devils team that won their 2021 preliminary final against Burleigh Bears at Suncorp Stadium.
Six players from that team have since signed fulltime contracts in the NRL or England while other Devils have stepped up this season into more prominent roles.
They include co-coaches Kevin Neighbour and Ben King who took over when premiership coach Rohan Smith was signed by Leeds Rhinos after Round 5.
“We’ve had a few different faces this year and Kev and BK have done a great job as coaches,” Gagan said.
“Everyone is focused and ready for this weekend. It’s been good to have last weekend off (after defeating Burleigh in the first week of the finals). The body is a bit fresher and we’re ready to go.”
The Falcons won the only clash between the teams this season, edging the Devils at Bishop Park in June.
That was during a mid-season wobble for the Devils but the team began finding its groove and takes a five-match winning streak into Saturday’s match.