A familiar faced turned out at Twickenham on Tuesday night. with Jacob McGrath joining the Blues first-grade team in an opposed training run against their reserve grade team.
The former Blue, who was a member of the club’s 2017 side, slotted straight into the pack and didn’t look out of place, running strong lines, whilst working hard in defence.
The 2019/20 Monaro under 23s representative and former Canberra Raider spent last year with the Tuggeranong Bushrangers and was due to go around with them again in the Canberra Cup competition until the club pulled the pin on their 2020 season.
“I love it with the Bushrangers, but they obviously haven’t got a team this year and I was having a beer with Connor (Massen), and he was saying he was going to Tumut,” McGrath said.
“Afterwards, I messaged Dean (Bristow) to see what was going on and if there was any room for me but he said there wasn’t too much room in the middle because they were waiting on a few new backs.
“After those signings fell through, he messaged me and said they were doing a bit of a reshuffle and they had some space in the middle again and I jumped at the chance.”
The Port Macquarie product has a storied rugby league history, having played in a variety of representative teams.
The forward, who can play both in the front row or on the edge, will only add to the mountain of depth the Blues will call upon in 2020.
“I played my juniors at Newcastle, then went to the Dragons before playing under 20s with the Raiders and pretty much went straight to Tumut after that,” McGrath said.
“I wasn’t enjoying my time at Canberra and I quit footy altogether but (Jarrad) Teka gave me a call and he told me to come check Tumut out and I ended up playing the whole year.”
McGrath’s season with Tumut reinvigorated him as a player. He folowed his Group 9 stint with a move to Yass for a season, before heading to Tuggeranong.
“I wanted to stay in Tumut but there were no more boys travelling down, which was the biggest factor for me and Teka was moving to Yass for the year, so I followed him,” McGrath said.
“Teka then went to the Bushrangers; I had a few clubs I wanted to join but I followed him and loved it there. It has been a lot like Tumut, in the sense that it is a big family club.”
The 22-year-old is hoping to add a little extra to the Blues pack this season, especially with Lewis Arragon forced to move to the backs to replace the likes of Josh Webb and Michael Clarke, who are both having the year off.
“I have to bring a lot of energy and be a big body through the middle. I usually play on the edge, but I’ll be in the middle and hopefully I can use a bit of good footwork and find my feet for a quick play the ball,” McGrath said.
McGrath is eyeing a rare chance to win a premiership too, suggesting that the Blues have the cattle to get the job done in 2020.
“Initially, I was just keen to play footy again but when the opportunity came up in Tumut, I instantly thought I would love the chance to win a premiership,” McGrath said.
“I had my first session with the team last night, it felt good and crisp and they look really good.”
Co-coach, Dean Bristow said McGrath would fit in well with the team’s dynamics, especially now that Arragon had been pencilled in to play on the wing in their round one match against Gundagai.
“Obviously he has been here before. He is another middle man, another forward for us, which will really add to our depth in that area,” Bristow said.
“Hopefully he can lessen the load on a few of those forwards and we will aim to get a really good rotation system in place.”