Yesterday as he was on hand to support his former school Erindale College at the inaugural Canberra Nines tournament, Jack Ahearn was struck with the realisation of just how far he has come in chasing his dream. Rest assured though Raiders fans, he has not pulled up stumps thus far.
Ahearn graduated from Erindale College in 2011 and after developing into one of the stars of the Raiders NYC side, he has since progressed through to the club’s NRL squad where he impressed many with his form at the Auckland Nines and in the two trials.
“Being out here and supporting the local schools from Canberra, especially my old school Erindale College, does make me reflect on how far I’ve come,” said Ahearn. “It’s crazy to think that it was only a few years ago that I was at school and in the same position as these guys.
“It’s been awesome for me to be able to come through the local juniors here and make it through to the first grade squad. It just goes to show you the development pathways the Raiders provide, guaranteed that you work hard.
“It’s a goal of mine to make my NRL debut this year but we’ll just have to see what happens. I’ll just bide my time, train hard and play well and hopefully my time will come sooner rather than later.”
Despite being just 21 years of age, Ahearn has a remarkably level head on his shoulders and exudes maturity beyond his years.
He has heard the praise delivered to him in public forums by his team mates and members of the coaching staff but he hasn’t let it affect him one iota. He knows that he still has a lot of hard work ahead of him to accomplish his dream of making his NRL debut for the club that he has represented at Harold Matthews, SG Ball and NYC level.
“It does give me a bit of confidence to hear my name being thrown in the ring but I’ve still got to concentrate on improving my game,” Ahearn said. “I’m not getting ahead of myself at all. There are still plenty of things I need to improve on in my game.
“But to be in with a chance of making my NRL debut for my local club is a great feeling. It was confidence boosting for me playing against NRL players in the Nines and in the two trials against Melbourne and Newcastle. There were a few big names so it was very nervous for me but also very exciting at the same time.”
The 2013 Junior Kangaroo representative is a brilliant on-field communicator who reads the game marvellously well and is able to take advantage of this with an effective array of skills.
Ahearn played predominantly as a fullback in the juniors however Ricky Stuart has been trialling the Valley Dragons junior as a five-eighth during the trials.
He has handled the transition to the front-line well, providing astute direction to in guiding the side around the park as well as creativity which has netted him a try and two try assists in the trials.
“It’s a bit of a change coming into the defensive line, I’ve had to make more tackles than I’ve ever made,” laughed Ahearn. “I think it’s a change for the good though and I’m learning to be more diverse in the positions that I’m able to play.
“I’ll be extremely proud to make my debut for the Raiders in the NRL and I’m focused on working hard and learning all that I can off the coaching staff and senior players to ensure that I give myself the best opportunity to do so.”