Smiling assassin ready for Semi
New Kangaroos and Eels' left-edge powerhouse Semi Radradra "torched" Canterbury's right edge six weeks ago but the new man on that side – the always-smiling Kerrod Holland – won't be fazed by the mammoth task facing him on Friday night.
The former Cessnock Goanna has been a revelation since stepping in for the injured Chase Stanley so far this year. While his ready smile has charmed fans, his ice-cold goal-kicking and impressive defensive workload speak of a steely determination to succeed.
He'll need it as he and veteran winger Sam Perrett ready for one of the toughest tasks in the NRL – marking up on Parramatta's all-Kangaroos left edge of Semi Radradra and Michael Jennings.
But this week, teammates backed the rookie centre and hardened winger to get the job done.
"Semi torched us last game," Radradra's former teammate and roommate Will Hopoate smiled this week when asked how his side's right edge would handle the blockbuster six weeks after being put to the sword.
"It's a big task but I think they're up for it. The old roomie, I should have put something in his dinner last year! It's big task for anyone but I know 'Dutchie' [Holland] and Sammy, they won't shy down from this challenge."
Holland knows each game could be his last for now as he awaits Chase Stanley's return from injury.
"They've both just been selected in the Australian squad so yeah, pretty easy this week!" Holland laughed. "Me and Sammy Perrett will have a job to do this week that's for sure."
Perrett not only backed the rookie to shine in his first outing opposing the Eels' powerhouse left side but also praised the calmness last year's NSW Cup team of the year member brought to that flank.
"I can't speak more highly of him. For such a young guy he's very mature and consistent and stable and he brings that confidence," Perrett said of Holland.
"He's a great player, a great partner to have. I find him easy to read and his talk is very clear, very reliable and he's very skilful so he's an awesome teammate and partner to have next to you, he makes it easy."
Holland is just loving every minute of NRL for now, having had the chance to string together three straight games for the injured Stanley since his eye-catching and match-winning Round 2 NRL debut.
"I love every minute, I love coming to training and I love playing. It's an opportunity I don't know how long it will last so I just need to take those opportunities and run out with a big smile on my face and enjoy every game," Holland said.
"I've just got to try and do the best job I can for the boys when I do get selected. I'm no certainty to get selected week in week out so every game that I do play I've got a big smile on my face and ready to rip."
Reflecting on his delayed journey to the NRL, the 23-year-old said he had first completed an electrician's apprenticeship but was now hoping to set down the tools for an extended period after last year's strong form in NSW Cup helped him to a start in Canterbury's top 25 this year.
"I sort of took a different option as a young bloke. I did an apprenticeship and went round the tracks then sort of thought to myself 'would I be good enough to play in the NRL' and playing rugby league all your life you've always got that question there and I didn't want to die wondering so I thought I'd give it a bit of a crack and here I am," Holland said.
"I was playing local league this time last year in the Newcastle comp for Cessnock then I did a pre-season with the Knights reserve grade and ended up playing 17 games there at the end of last year and we won the comp. One thing led to another and there were a couple of phone calls exchanged and I find myself in a new home down here at the Bulldogs," he added.
Holland hasn't looked out of his depth by any stretch, as seen in his calm goal-kicking and assured defensive reads.
Senior Canterbury centre Josh Morris has been a massive help in that department, he revealed.
"Definitely over the pre-season Josh Morris was really good for me. He's a great defensive centre and that's something I wanted to work on so just learning little things off him. He's great with the younger blokes here and I really thank him for that. I probably wouldn't be where I am today without some of his guidance," said Holland, having averaged 24 tackles per game at a lofty 93 per cent effective rate in his four games so far.
"You've got a lot bigger bodies and blokes that are a lot faster as well in the centre position so that's one thing that 'J-Moz' has worked with me on is my decision making. It's definitely tough but you've got to make the right ones and you do hours and hours of work on it and video on it so hopefully you can make the right decisions."