Berrell chips away at Broncos debut
If Broncos coach Wayne Bennett values work ethic in his players – and I think we all know that he does – then he has a good 'un on his hands in under-20s hooker Jayden Berrell.
With star talents Ashley Taylor and Jayden Nikorima absent on Saturday night through injury, Berrell almost single-handedly engineered a dramatic Brisbane comeback in the Qualifying Final against the Cowboys.
Trailing 30-12, Berrell shifted to the halves and laid on two tries and scored one himself as the Broncos got back within six points only for Gideon Mosby to clinch a Preliminary Final berth for North Queensland with his fourth try in the dying stages.
A Junior Kangaroos and Queensland under-20s representative this season, Berrell was one of five Broncos players named in the Holden Cup Team of the Year on Monday and is set to join the Broncos' full-time squad in the 2016 pre-season.
Averaging 29 tackles per game, Berrell also boasts 16 line-break assists and 17 try assists in 24 games, all the while working a 40-hour week as an apprentice carpenter.
Berrell begins the fourth year of his apprenticeship next month and said the early starts five days a week have conditioned him to handle the tough away schedule under-20s teams are subjected to.
"It works out well when we go away and we have to get up early. I'm kind of used to it now so I guess that's in my favour," Berrell said of his early starts on the job.
"I work 6am-2pm most days but it's all right. We manage it through footy, come in and modify stuff if I've got injuries or what not.
"At work I just modify what I'm doing there if there's too much pressure on anything. It works out pretty well.
"We do a lot of fitting of staircases and joinery and that sort of stuff; a lot of up and down stairs.
"In Year 11 my pop gave me the option to either get a job doing retail or go find an actual carpentry job or something.
"I left high school in Year 11 and went to Australian Industry Trade College down the [Gold] Coast and started my apprenticeship through that."
The Broncos are currently so well served in the hooker position with Andrew McCullough and Kodi Nikorima that Matt Parcell has been forced to leave Brisbane to link with Manly.
Berrell knows that an NRL debut is still a long way off but is grateful that his good form has been rewarded with a full-time contract in 2016.
"This year I've come out a bit more and played a bit more of my own game, not holding back," said the 20-year-old.
"I've had a bit of luck making some sides this year which has been good and we've been pretty strong this season. We finished in the top four and that was good for us.
"[An NRL contract] is something big for me. It's something that I really pushed for this year and something I was really hoping to get.
"I'm very grateful that I'm going to get the opportunity to do that at the end of the year."