Young gun...a then 11-year-old Jake Trbojevic in his Mona Vale Raiders jersey at Brookvale Oval. Photo courtesy of Melissa Trbojevic.
For a quiet little junior rugby league club, Mona Vale Raiders will be cheering very loudly when Jake Trbojevic takes to the field for Australia this weekend.
And the Raiders have every reason too as Jake will become the club’s first ever Kangaroo.
For Jake, his passion for the Mona Vale Raiders was installed from him as a toddler.
Parents Melissa and John are life members of the Raiders. ‘Big John’, as he is affectionately known, has done it all, from long serving committeeman, former president, field marker, ground manager, to head barbecue man.
Legend has it that no one makes a better ‘bacon and egg roll’ at the Raiders than Big John, a former league man who built a reputation as a hard hitting forward for Narrabeen in his younger years.
Melissa, who started off as a gear steward, has been in charge of the canteen – the lifeblood of any junior sporting club, for years. Both only stopped this season after years of wonderful service.
And Newport Oval has been always been a second home in winter for Melissa, John, and their sons Jake, Tom, Luke, and Ben.
The Trbojevic brothers have proudly worn the Raiders colours and despite their NRL star status now, Jake and Tom continue to be involved with the junior teams as coaches or trainers. Luke and Ben are also qualified junior referees.
Long-time friend and official Warwick Phillips said the club is extremely proud of the family.
He recalls the first time his wife asked an eight-year-old Jake what he wanted to do when he grew up.
“All of these kids were saying they wanted to be firemen or police officers. Jake just said ‘I want to play for Manly,’’ Phillips said.
“He was true to his word. I remember when Jake made his NRL debut for Manly at Brookvale Oval. There must have been at least 120 people from the Mona Vale Raiders sitting on the hill waiting for Jake to run on to the field.
“It was a proud moment for our club, but to now have Jake play for Australia is just absolutely enormous.
“John told me the other day that as a child, he wanted to either play for the Kangaroos in rugby league, or be a Test cricketer. He is so proud that one of his kids has been able to do that now.”
The match at KC Lightstream Stadium, Hull, will be shown live on Channel Nine’s Gem Network at 6am Saturday (AEDT). Jake becomes the 70th Manly player to represent Australia in the Sea Eagles' 70th Year Anniversary.
Read Jake's Kangaroos Diary here
Join here to become a 2017 Sea Eagles Member.