North Queensland based centre, Jai Doherty, will make the move to Temora early next month to join the Dragons ahead of the 2021 Group 9 season.
The former North Queensland Cowboys academy player was a member of the Northern Pride under 20s side in the Queensland Cup competition in 2019, before spending last year with the Trinity Bulls in the Cairns A-Grade rugby competition after Covid-19 ruined any chance of him progressing to the next level.
Now, the 20-year-old is keen to test himself in NSW, and with Temora considered one of the best rugby league nurseries in the state, Doherty is keen to join the Red and White.
“Last year I played rugby union, I played for the Trinity Bulls, but the previous year, I played in the Northern Pride under 20s in the Queensland Cup,” Doherty said.
“In high school I was with the (North Queensland) Cowboys Academy, but I just needed to get out of Cairns and experience something new and different.
“I’ve always wanted to get out and try somewhere new and this is the perfect opportunity.”
Doherty was led to Temora by his agent, after the Dragons advertised for a strike centre.
“My agent set me up to go there, and he told me all the good things about Temora,” Doherty said.
“He said they were being coached by Josh McCrone and they have contacts to big clubs.”
The young outside back is at home at centre, but also likes to play in the halves, and is happy to test himself in a strong Dragons spine.
“I pretty much play anywhere in the backs, but I’ve played the last few years in the halves,” Doherty said.
“I like to think I am a pretty good kicker, I’m a bit of a playmaking centre, so I like helping them out with getting quicker ball to the outside and creating opportunities.”
Temora Dragons president, Adam Gidley, had been working hard to get Doherty over the line, and explained that it was advertising that essentially led Doherty to the Dragons.
“I paid for an advertisement through that Luke Srama Rugby League Recruitment page, and a gentleman approached me representing him,” Gidley said.
“I believe he looks after Pacific Islander footballers and he said Jai was keen to get out of the Cairns comp and play some NSW country rugby league.
“With Josh (McCrone) here, it made a lot of sense for him to come and join us. It will give him that experience and he will get that tutelage under a former NRL player and he will be able to get outside of his comfort zone and help him take that next step.”
Doherty essentially caps off the Dragons hard and fast recruitment and retention period that followed the club sitting out the 2020 Group 9 season, with the Temora now only really chasing a front rower.
“We needed another centre, which is sorted now, but now we need that big body up front,” Gidley said.
“Just another big guy to help the team go forward would be nice.”