Ahearn the “new kid” as Devils start season
Jack Ahearn jokes that he’s “part of the furniture” at Norths Devils but the two-time premiership captain has felt like the new kid on the block in recent weeks.
Captain Ahearn has returned to the Devils after spending the pre-season training with the Brisbane Broncos.
He featured in two of the Broncos’ trials including an 80-minute performance against the Gold Coast Titans last month.
That’s left him in excellent shape for his sixth season at the Devils, lining up under new coach Dave Elliott and with a different cast as Norths seeks to become the first team since 1964 to win three successive titles.
Nine of the 17 players who featured in last year’s grand final triumph have moved on for opportunities to crack NRL systems. That’s close to the eight players who departed after the 2021 grand final.
In their place is a cast of new faces – Bryce Donovan and Sam Elliott played in last year’s grand final for Redcliffe before signing with Norths – while 2021 premiership winners Jon Reuben and Bernard Gregorius have returned to the Devils.
Elliott will be among the new Devils for tomorrow’s season-opening clash with Burleigh Bears at Bishop Park along with Newcastle recruit James Johnson and former Wynnum Manly utility Kyle Coghill.
“I hadn’t been training with the guys because I’d been at the Broncos so I really felt like the new kid on the block when I returned,” Ahearn said.
“There’s still a really good feeling here. Dave (Elliott) has been great since he joined us and he’s really made sure that we’re building on what’s happened at the club in recent years.
“We’ve got some new players who have brought some energy and then we have the likes of Donno (Bryce Donovan), JR (Reuben) and Bernie (Gregorius). It’s so good to have those players back. That’s the type of club we’ve got here – players leave but they often want to come back.”
Donovan has joined in the Devils’ leadership group with Ahearn, hooker Kierran Moseley and two-time Norths premiership winner Connor Broadhurst.
That group has helped Elliott mould these Devils into an attempt at a premiership.
“We know that teams will really come after us this year but that’s all a part of the reason we play footy,” Ahearn said.
“We see this season as another huge opportunity for us. We know that every team will want to beat us but that’s good. We’re up for the challenge and we’re excited about the new season.”
Devils fans love watching Ahearn drive their team around the field.
But they would also love for Ahearn to make a cherished NRL debut. He showed his skill in the pre-season and remains hopeful of following his great mate Reuben, who made his NRL debut last season for the Dragons.
“That’s a goal that I’m still chasing and I was grateful to the Broncos for the chance to complete the pre-season there,” Ahearn said.
“I really enjoyed working with (Broncos coach) Kevvie Walters and learning under him. It was a great experience and I’m thankful for it.”
We would miss having Jack leading the Devils; but he has certainly earned a shot in the NRL. All the best to you, Jack.