Unusual twist in Fogarty debut
Gold Coast Titans mid-season recruit Jamal Fogarty didn't have much time to think about making his NRL debut against the Wests Tigers last Friday because he wasn't told he would be playing until almost lunch time on game day.
Fresh after being released from the Parramatta Eels, the Beaudesert junior slotted into the five-eighth position on the weekend after Tyrone Roberts failed to overcome a shoulder injury, with halfback Kane Elgey already sidelined.
In a twist, the Fogarty family had already booked flights earlier in the week with a hope and sense that the time had finally arrived for the 23-year-old to make his debut.
As it turns out, they were on the money.
"I found out at 10am Friday morning… Neil pulled me in before the team walk and said Tyrone was going to rest his shoulder for another week and said I was playing," Fogarty told NRL.com.
"I don't think he wanted to tell me the day before so I could get a decent night sleep, by the sounds of it. I'm the type that would've been relaxed at the hotel but as soon as I got to the ground the butterflies would kick in and get real nervous.
"Because I was named in a 21-man squad my partner and a few family members booked flights just in case, so it kind of worked out a good thing."
When NRL.com asked Henry for the real reason behind telling the Titans junior so late in the week, he clarified it came down to seeking approval from the NRL first before delivering the news to the former Australian schoolboy.
"We only made a decision on Tyrone on the Thursday and then we needed to make sure Jamal could play because he had to be dual registered as he is with our feeder club," Henry told NRL.com.
"Once we got the clearance it was 8.30am that morning so there was no point me telling him [the night before] in case he ended up not being able to play.
"We were confident he would be able to but just to make sure we did want him to get nervous overnight. I said to him earlier in the week he might be a good chance and his family were already down here so it all turned out really well for him.
"Which was good when he told us because otherwise we would have had to rush them down in limited time, so they must have known something that I didn't a few days ago."
Henry was confident Fogarty would feature in the Titans line-up again this season, particularly with the side's terrible run of luck with injuries in 2017.
Tyrone Roberts (shoulder) is no guarantee to return against the Dragons on Friday night.
"We got word he (Fogarty) was coming back to play for Burleigh and to get on with his life so it just so happened that Kane hurt his sternum and we needed a half pretty quickly," Henry said.
"I thought he did his job and went well for us."
Fogarty's release from the Eels a fortnight ago coincided with new Parramatta recruit Mitchell Moses joining the club from the Tigers.
The arrival of Moses at the Eels may have pushed him further down the pecking order at the club, but Fogarty was adamant he was set to depart the club either way in a bid to return to Queensland.
"It had no effect, absolutely not," Fogarty said of Moses joining Parramatta.
"I loved Parra, the coaching staff and the boys but it was a move that was best for me to be closer to family. We were struggling in Sydney so just decided to move back home to be more comfortable."
The Titans move comes with no guarantees for Fogarty, with the playmaker set to head back to Burleigh unless required in Henry's side moving forward. For now, the Titans junior is happy to take any opportunity presented in the top grade.
He also relished the chance to line-up alongside Jarryd Hayne for the first time.
"Jarryd is one of the best players going around so to play alongside him I am on a bit of a high… I thought at first, 'Is that really him?'" Fogarty said.
"The first 15 minutes was pretty fast and hard to find my feet but after that I had Dale Copley on the outside of me talking and I found it easier.
"They have a great leadership group here with Nathan Peats being the tough little competitor he is in the middle and Ryan James, Jarrod Wallace and Kevin Proctor out on the edge so all I had to do is hold my tackles and steer the boys around in patches."