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Positive steps forward for Ben Trbojevic

Ben Trbojevic freely admits to trying them on.

After all, it’s not every day one of your brothers is the recipient of two of rugby league’s most prestigious medals in the same season.

And why wouldn’t you after witnessing the extraordinary feats achieved by his brother, Tom, in an unforgettable 2021 that saw him capture the Wally Lewis Medal for Player of the Origin series and the Dally M Medal for the game’s best player.

“Yeah, the medals…they are pretty cool,’’ said a smiling Ben.

Family bond...Tom Trbojevic shares his Dally M Medal win with proud brothers Jake and Ben.
Family bond...Tom Trbojevic shares his Dally M Medal win with proud brothers Jake and Ben.

2021 might have been a superb year for Tom but for 20-year-old Ben, the season was all about further growth.

A product of the successful Sea Eagles Pathways Academy, Ben gained plenty of experience in his first season in Manly’s NRL squad after graduating from the development squad in 2020.

Being a Trbojevic brother was never going to be easy, not when Tom and Jake are two established stars in the game and have represented their state and country.

His surname alone instantly created extra media attention with many waiting to see what Ben could possibly achieve.

The hype around it didn’t faze Ben. His sole focus was an NRL debut and carving out his own name in the game.

The spotlight got brighter in May when Manly Coach Des Hasler gave Ben his NRL debut against Newcastle.

The importance of family is never lost on Hasler, who asked Jake and Tom to present Ben with his NRL jersey in the lead up to the game.

Unfortunately, not all NRL debuts have fairytale endings.

With the game in the balance until late as Manly tried to secure victory, Ben’s opportunity came in the 79th minute.

His lone run ended in concussion after being on the end of a hit from Newcastle prop David Klemmer.

“Even though my debut wasn’t long with what happened, I was still very proud to have done it,’’ Ben reflected.

It was very humbling. It was such a special moment for my family who were all there at the ground

Ben Trbojevic on his NRL debut

“It was the first time I’ve ever played with Tom or Jake, so that was pretty cool.

“As for the tackle from ‘Klem’, it was just one of those things that happens in the game. ‘Klem’ is a good family friend and we know him well. There was no issue.”

Following his debut, Ben played three more first grade games for the Sea Eagles with Manly winning all three.

He almost scored his first try in the NRL through a kind gesture by Tom in the record 66-0 win against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Bankwest Stadium in round 16.

“Tom passed me the ball over the line but it was denied on an obstruction call,’’ Ben added.

“There was another one too with Jason Saab…he was looking for me when he was in the clear, but I was a fair way behind. He is pretty quick as we know.”

Ben’s season did finish on another proud moment for the close-knit Trbojevic family when Jake invited him to be his ‘plus one’ to attend the Dally M Medal night in Brisbane.

“Jake and I had a feeling Tom would get it because of his great season, so there’s no way I was going to miss out on it,’’ Ben said.

“At the awards, I was honestly shaking, thinking ‘wow, what’s happening’.

“I just kept remembering when we were younger, playing footy in the backyard together.

“And there was Tom up there winning the most prestigious award you can win in the game for an individual.

“It was just mind blowing.

“The thing about Tom is, despite all of his success, he is still very much the same person.

“But obviously in that moment, I was just so proud of him.”

As for 2022, Ben is determined to try and get more NRL game time as he continues to develop his game under Coach Des Hasler.

He is also open to which position he plays.

“I like to be versatile. I’ve been training at centre and in the back-row at different times. I really don’t mind where I play,’’ Ben added.