Origin hopeful returns to haunt Broncos
He says returning to Brisbane still very much feels like home but Roosters firebrand Dylan Napa is determined to inflict more punishment on the club that overlooked him when the Broncos host the Roosters at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Brisbane born and bred, Napa joined fellow Roosters teammates James Maloney, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sio Siua Taukeiaho along with club legend Anthony Minichiello at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital on Thursday as part of the Steggles Roosters Charity Nest that has raised more than $1.5 million for children's charities since 2010.
Growing up in Brisbane as a Broncos tragic idolising Darren Lockyer and Gorden Tallis, Napa didn't attract any interest from Broncos scouts until after the Roosters came calling and is determined to show them what they missed on Friday night.
"I was doing nothing in 'Brissie', just cruising, and the [Roosters] offered me a contract in Sydney," Napa said.
"They were the first team to offer me anything and then I got some interest from the Broncos but I decided to go with the Roosters.
"The Roosters got in pretty early and were pretty keen. The Broncos weren't really too keen but then they got keen when they heard about the Roosters but by then it was too late, I'd already signed.
"I was a little bit dirty that they didn't want me at the start so I wanted to go [to Sydney]. I respect the Broncos, they're a great side and they've got awesome development so it should be interesting come Friday night."
Napa was playing under-18s for Norths Devils when he was spotted by then Roosters scout Jamie Mathiou playing in the Mal Meninga Cup.
Now in charge of recruitment at the Titans, Mathiou endeavoured to lure Napa to the Gold Coast for the 2016 season but said he was pleased to see him stay with the club that had helped to shape something of a rough diamond into a genuine option for the Queensland Origin team.
"He probably could have come to [the Titans] but at the end of the day he stayed loyal to the Roosters which is great. He's at a great club and I don't blame him [for staying]. They really like him there," Mathiou said.
"That's the beauty of recruitment. Everyone can find the one that sticks out like a sore thumb but it's more pleasing when you find a kid like Dylan who has got a lot of potential but it is raw potential and he needs the right system and the right development.
"I just went and watched, I didn't know of him. I was just watching the game and then I looked at him and thought, Wow. I tried to keep it as quiet as possible because anyone who used to sign with the Roosters, they'd all try to jump in then.
"I was a bit surprised that no other club was looking at him. He obviously had a bucket-full of talent but in saying that the Roosters have turned him into a real good player.
"That's a great club and their policies and procedures and how they do things are second to none. Even though he was a very good talent the Roosters have really brought him on and developed him.
"You don't get them right all the time but you've got to make sure you get more right than wrong. I was lucky that Dylan was one that came through."
Along with Jason Taumalolo at the Cowboys, Napa was considered the hottest young forward coming onto the open market at the end of 2015 but recently extended his stay at Bondi until at least the end of the 2017 season.
Despite interest from numerous other NRL clubs, the 22-year-old who watched videos of Sonny-Bill Williams to develop a fearless approach to his football said he was more than happy to stay at the club who first handed him an opportunity.
"I'm happy as. Had awesome coaches all the way through, Jason Taylor in the under-20s and now Trent Robinson and Craig Fitzgibbon, so been pretty lucky with the coaching staff that has helped me to get where I am," said Napa.
"I was 17 when I moved to Sydney and I was pretty nervous. It was a big step but I had family down there which made it a bit easier.
"Then it was only a matter of time before I met all my under-20s teammates and they're the best bunch of blokes and luckily enough to have five or six come through [to first grade]."