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Captain Jack reaches century for Devils

It all began with some “persistent” phone calls and it’s become one of the most important careers in Norths Devils history.

Jack Ahearn will play his 100th Queensland Cup match for the Devils on Sunday when Souths Logan Magpies travel to Bishop Park.

Ahearn first played on the ground nine years ago when he wore a Magpies jumper against the Devils.

He scored a try in a Magpies’ win that day and he scored another try for Redcliffe when he faced the Devils again two years later.

Ahearn moved to the Devils for the 2018 season but only after new coach Rohan Smith pursued him. Smith was so keen that the first thing he did when arriving in Brisbane for his new role was drop his family at their hotel room and race out to meet Ahearn for a coffee.

“I really didn’t know much about Ro but he coached against me when I was at Canberra and he was so persistent,” Ahearn recalled with a laugh.

“I had a good meeting with him but I still wasn’t convinced. Eventually Ro gave me a deadline and I ended up going with Norths. It wasn’t because of the money – I was offered bigger contracts elsewhere – but I decided to go to a club where I was clearly wanted.

“Ro made it very clear that he wanted me there!”

Devils fans have given thanks ever since that Ahearn and Michael Sio joined the club for a 2018 season that would spark one of the brightest eras in Norths history.

The Devils, chasing their first finals berth in five years, ran out of puff late in 2018 to just miss the playoffs.

In his first season as captain in 2019, Ahearn recalls lying on the change room floor devastated after the Tigers pinched a finals win over Norths at Bishop Park.

In 2020, he felt the Devils were a premiership threat but Covid-19 ruined the season after one game.

The last two years have ended with treasured premierships – 2021 was a dominant season with 18 wins from 20 games while last year featured a mid-season wobble and an epic run of seven straight wins for the title.

“It hasn’t been so much about the premiership wins alone as it’s been about the journey,” Ahearn said.

“It’s really been a journey here over the time with so many good people.

“Those people have set standards that everyone wanted to meet. We’ve been able to build something on that journey and we’re still trying to improve on that now.”

Ahearn is only the sixth Devil to reach 100 games for the club in the Queensland Cup era (since 1996).

Mark Vaiao (117 games) has played the most matches for Norths since 1996, ahead of Wade Fenton (114), Marc Brentnall (107), Kevin Carmichael (107) and Brendon Gibb (101).

If Ahearn plays each match of the regular season, he will equal Carmichael on 107 games. He then has the chance to eclipse Carmichael’s record with his fifth player-of-the-year title for Norths.

“When you play long enough, you get milestones and I’ll reflect on them down the track,” Ahearn said.

“The most important thing now is to focus on this weekend’s game against the Magpies because they have been the team to beat this season.”

The Magpies lead the competition.

They will bring a swag of Broncos-contracted players to the game on Sunday while the Devils will again play without any NRL-contracted players.

They did the same last weekend, defeating a Redcliffe team with eight Dolphins NRL players.

Earlier this year, the Devils and Magpies drew 18-all.

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