Reuben leaves Roosters to chase NRL dream
One of the most prolific try-scorers in Holden Cup history has revealed why he felt he had to walk away from the Sydney Roosters in order to keep his NRL dream alive.
Jonathon Reuben was the latest signing unveiled by Intrust Super Cup new boys the Townsville Blackhawks on Tuesday, less than 18 months after signing a two-year deal with the Roosters and being touted as a player with "blinding speed" and "blessed with a natural try-scoring ability".
After a 2013 season with the Raiders under-20s in which he scored 28 tries from 19 games and was named in the NYC Team of the Year, Canberra had yet another one of their most exciting prospects snatched away from them.
But with Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Michael Jennings locking down the centre positions at the Roosters, Reuben was consigned to a year playing for Newtown in the NSW Cup and struggling to cope with the demands of living in Sydney.
Townsville born and bred, Reuben is hoping a return to his family will allow him to produce his best football and catch the eye of North Queensland coach Paul Green.
"I was just missing home and wanted to come back home and be close to my family. I wasn't really enjoying my football down there so I thought it was time to come home and sign with the Blackhawks," Reuben told NRL.com.
"Being close to family and being close to home I think I'll enjoy my football here and hopefully get a chance with the Cowboys."
Reuben is one of a host of players touted for big careers coming through the National Youth Competition who have since struggled to establish themselves as NRL players.
The 21-year-old said having his family with him made his initial transition in Canberra somewhat easier and that he thought after graduating from the under-20s competition that an NRL career would follow soon after.
"I thought it was but I got homesick," Reuben said of his expectations of playing NRL. "I thought it was a risk coming back here and signing with the Blackhawks but I've just got to train hard and work to try and get another NRL contract."
Inaugural coach Kristian Woolf is assembling an impressive Blackhawks squad consisting of NRL-hardened forwards in Neville Costigan and Ricky Thorby as well as talented 20-somethings such as Wayne Ulugia and Michael Parker-Walshe who are hoping to reignite their football careers.
A driving force in the club's recruitment policy has been to target players originally hailing from the area and complemented by his under-20s exploits Woolf said Reuben's sudden availability was a welcome surprise.
"When I first decided I was coming up here and the Blackhawks first came in our first port of call was to look at guys who were from this area that were playing with NRL clubs or Q Cup clubs elsewhere," Woolf said.
"He was obviously looked into then but when he was with the Roosters we thought he was unavailable until his name got bandied around a few weeks ago and it's worked out well for us.
"Obviously he's a Townsville boy which is what made him most attractive and also the fact that he's been in a 20s system for a couple of years and done really well there and he's also come out of a very successful and a very well run first grade system for the last 12 or so months.
"I'd like to think that he not only gives us a bit of depth but a fair bit of strike and also some really good competition for spots."