Former heavyweight Manly prop George Rose chuckles when he recalls the time he first trained with a fresh faced Jake Trbojevic.
The year was 2013.
“Jake didn’t look big when he arrived to train with the first grade boys, but he was strong as all hell. And very polite,’’ Rose said.
“Every time he tackled or wrestled a player, he would apologise. He didn’t want to hurt them. It was funny at the time because I never seen anything like it.
“But everything he did, you couldn’t help but be impressed.”
Half-back Daly Cherry Evans was one of those players who quickly discovered Jake’s strength the first time they trained..
“I naively took on this young guy from the 20s in a wresting injury. Jake might have been licking his lips at me,’’ Cherry-Evans laughed.
“When we wrestled, he absolutely crushed me. He kept apologising afterwards. I told him it was okay mate and to give me a minute to catch my breath.”
Rose knows what makes a first grader, having played over 150 NRL games during his 11 year career that saw him wear the Manly jersey from 2006-13. His weight, which often tipped over the 120kg mark, saw him earn the nick-name of ‘Gorgeous George’.
He played 127 NRL matches for Manly, won the Club’s Player of the Year award in 2009, and won a premiership with the Sea Eagles in 2011.
Rose was in the front-row the day Trbojevic made his NRL debut for Manly against Penrith at Brookvale Oval in round 25 of the 2013 season.
“I didn’t know a lot about him before that, but as a front-rower, you are meant to get tired. But not Jake, he doesn’t know how to get tired or when to stop,’’ Rose added.
“Personally, I’m glad I don’t have to train against Jake because he would be much stronger now than he was back then.”
Three years on and Rose will proudly watch his former team-mate make his Test debut for Australia in Hull against Scotland in the Four Nations tournament. The match at KC Lightstream Stadium, Hull, will be shown live on Channel Nine’s Gem Network at 6am Saturday (AEDT).
“I’m sure he remanences about the days of playing alongside me. He has probably forgotten I even played for the club,’’ Rose joked.
“It will be a special week for Jake. You haven’t heard anyone complaining about him being in the Kangaroos side.
“Jake is going to be a NSW Blues and a Kangaroos forward for a long, long time. The way he plays the game, he is the type of player you want alongside you at that representative level.
“It is great that Manly have secured Jake and his brother, Tom, on long term deals. It is a new era for the Sea Eagles. It reminds me of the Stewart boys and how great they were for the club for so many years. It really is an exciting time for Manly.”
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