Gagan gets Cronulla stamp of approval
The Cronulla Sharks had one of their more memorable victories against the Roosters two weeks ago. After coming back from 24-0 down to win 30-28, the Sharks might not have been as lucky if it wasn't for rookie winger Jacob Gagan.
The former Australian Schoolboy Gagan crossed for a solid brace of tries, to make it three tries from three games by that point, and made a fantastic try-saving one-on-one tackle on opposite winger Brendan Elliot to keep the game in reach.
Gagan has already been rewarded for his strong start to life in the NRL with a new two-year contract with Cronulla, with teammate David Fifita also signing a new deal.
With the 21-year-old Cabramatta junior making his move to the Shire following a stint with the Sea Eagles last year, veteran Sharks fullback Michael Gordon has praised the four-game novice on his showings so far.
"Jacob is a big strong unit and when you see him manhandle people like that it gives everyone a lift and he's doing a great job," Gordon told NRL.com.
"That's the only positive from having so many injuries and so many disruptions this season is that people have a go that might not have had a chance this year, and [Jacob] has certainly taken his opportunity with both hands and he's been playing fantastic so I can only see him getting better and better."
The quietly-spoken Gagan was not as inclined to talk about himself, instead focusing on the team and the chance to play with the host of classy players currently on the Sharks books.
"I'm pretty stoked to be playing with the big boys," Gagan told NRL.com.
"I was lucky enough to come out to the Sharks this season and it is really good playing with guys like [Luke Lewis] and Gal and all the other boys who are pretty experienced so I am loving it.
"It's pretty crazy to be playing with them with all their experience and leadership."
While the youngster was clearly disappointed after losing to the Knights 31-18 on the weekend, Gagan didn't let the experience of New South Wales representative winger James McManus get to him. Gagan showed again why he belongs in the NRL after stopping the veteran McManus from crossing the white stripe with another commendable try saver as Newcastle held the momentum for the majority of the second half.
With the more-experienced Nathan Gardner and Blake Ayshford plying their trade in the NSW Cup, Gagan was confident that he can continue his good form and keep the faith of interim coach James Shepherd.
Gagan affirming: "[My goal is] to keep my spot in the team and keep playing first-grade."
It's as simple as that for Gagan who is yet to be overawed by the cauldron of the top-flight rugby league and with a showdown with Samoan international Antonio Winterstein anticipated on Friday night expect nothing to change for the growing powerhouse.