Olive urged to grab second chance
John Olive's former coach has urged the former Australian Schoolboys representative to use his next opportunity in the NRL to show what he is capable of after his move to the Gold Coast Titans was formalised on Wednesday.
A move from the Rabbitohs first mooted in October that wasn't to take place until 2017 got fast-tracked last Friday and on Wednesday Olive was released from the final year of his contract at Redfern.
He began training with his new Titans teammates on Monday and although named to play for Tweed Heads in the Intrust Super Cup, could be rushed into the team if fullback William Zillman succumbs to a calf injury.
Nineteen-year-old Olive scored a try in South Sydney's 22-20 trial win against the Titans less than a fortnight ago and is seen as another key signing in the club's youth-led roster restructuring.
Cut from St George Illawarra's Harold Matthews under-16s squad in early 2012, Olive turned up to Endeavour Sports High School to begin Year 10 and within the space of two years had developed into one of the best schoolboy talents in the country.
Little more than six months after scoring a hat-trick for the Australian Schoolboys against France in December 2014, Olive made his NRL debut for the Rabbitohs on the wing in Round 14 last year but was overawed by the occasion according to Endeavour head coach, Dave Howlett.
"I watched his debut keenly because it was so close to leaving school," Howlett told NRL.com.
"He was at school in 2014 and then he got his debut [NRL] game in 2015 and I've talked to him about it. It just reminded me a little bit of when he was 16 or 17 and lacked a bit of confidence. He played in the game but it wasn't the John Olive that I knew and that I'd seen play at 20s and play at school.
"I couldn't get him out of the game when he was playing at school. Every set, whenever the ball would come anywhere near his edge he'd get a touch, whether it was from a shift or carrying the ball back to the middle following a shift.
"He was just in the game and in first grade I think if he had his time again he'd do things very differently.
"I just think he might have let an opportunity slip there so hopefully he gets another crack at it and he shows everyone what he's capable of."
When he arrived at Endeavour Olive was "a skinny kid playing in the back row" before his physical development saw him buck the trend and make a positional switch from the forwards to the outside backs.
In 2013 he hinted at what was ahead with a move to the wing and then took the competition by storm when he shifted into the centres in 2014, helping Endeavour to go on and claim the GIO Schoolboy Cup.
"He was injured for the final but there was no way we get anywhere near the final without his presence," said Howlett, who has been coaching at Endeavour since 1998.
"We played well in the semi-final but we'd scored three tries by half-time and he'd scored them all.
"He just became too fast [to play in the back row]. It was a matter of how to use his abilities.
"The open space that he was getting on kick returns and his dummy-half running and his carrying on play two in yardage and defensively it suited his game a little better to make less tackles. It was just a natural progression really.
"In two years he probably improved the most by any kid that I've seen in that space of time. He went from a kid that couldn't make a Harold Matthews team to one of the best schoolboy players in Australia."