Jackson Thomas

You think an NRL debut is stressful? try being an NRL ball boy.

You might have seen in recent weeks, due to covid-19 restrictions, traditional NRL ball-boys are no longer allowed at games.

So the duties have fallen, or rather been bestowed upon, members of the wider squad. 

And they take their jobs very seriously.

YKTR was lucky enough to get taken through last week's game day routine from Melbourne's own Cooper Johns.

6:30am: Get up, stretch, and have about 4 raw eggs.

7:30: Knock out a kiddies 5 km run. A lot of people think that ball boys don’t have to do much when in reality we are covering up to 10kms a game. True story.

9am: Fly to Sydney. While most of the boys were in coach, Nicho Hynes and I as ball boys were in first class along with the skipper and coach.

12pm: Arrive at central coast stadium. Walk around get the legs moving and scope at the sideline which we are going to be operating on.

I like to do a couple laps up and down. Practicing putting the ball on the 20 meter line and basic communication with the touch judge.

1-2pm: Sleep, just to try settle the nerves a bit.

2:30pm: Meeting with Peter V’Landys. Basically Peter just tells us what he expects of us and our role in the game.

He also asked me to play golf with him once restrictions loosened.

3:30pmStrapping. Usually just have the two ankles done.

4:30pm: Craig Bellamy could tell I was nervous to debut (as ball boy). So he just came and told me to get out there and have fun.

5:15pm: Last warm up and stretch. Nicho Hynes helped me stretch my groins.

5:25pm: Last words of advice from The Badge, Gavin badger.

He just said “boys, take advantage of the opportunity you’ve been given today, take it with both hands and give it everything you’ve got”.

5:30pm: Kick off!

5:33pm Toilet break. The curry I had for lunch kicked in.

6pm: Getting sprayed by the home crowd for being a Johns and not playing for Newcastle.

7pm: Full time. Whole game is a bit of a blur.

7-7:30pm: Singing the team song and getting man of the match.

Once again, another win for the ball boys. 

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