They have taken vastly different routes back to Bishop Park, but Brendan Frei and David Faamita are happy to be Devils again.
Frei has come from the Sydney Roosters back to the club where he played in the Under 16s and Under 18s before NRL teams called.
Faamita, who once played rugby union in Romania, has returned to Bishop Park after a brief stint with the Goodna Eagles revived his love of rugby league.
The Frei name is known at Bishop Park – Brendan’s brother Mitchell played for the Devils (and is now with the Souths Logan Magpies) and their father Harry was a star cricketer a few blocks away for the Toombul club.
A late first-class debutant as a wily left-arm quick, Harry once ripped through a touring English team in a highlight of a sporting career that included a stint as an Australian Rules player in the VFL.
But Harry’s three sons, including young New Zealand Warriors signing Jackson, have made their names in rugby league.
They lived and trained together with the Sydney Roosters in a highlight of Brendan’s playing career.
“We all started at the Albany Creek Crushers in the Under 6s so the chance to all live and play together at the Sydney Roosters was something we couldn’t pass up,” Brendan, 22, said.
“It was a great time for us as brothers, but we’ve gone our separate ways again now and I’m really pleased to be back here at Norths.
“This is a club that I’ve always wanted to play with again – I followed the Devils even when I was playing at the Storm and the Roosters, so it’s special for me to be back here.”
Frei, a backrower who has also played in the centres, still aspires to reach NRL level after becoming part of the Roosters’ extended squad in 2018.
This is a club that I’ve always wanted to play with again.Brendan Frei
He knocked back offers from other clubs to join the Devils, where he has enjoyed coach Rohan Smith’s pre-season program over the last month.
Frei went to school at nearby Wavell High, where Faamita now works as a teacher aide.
The Wavell High-Devils connection is strong over many years, featuring many well-known players including veteran forward, Under 18 assistant coach and school teacher Guy Williams.
Faamita would like to resume his Intrust Super Cup career at Bishop Park, where he played in 2016 and 2017 after a stint with the South Logan Magpies.
In between the Devils and Magpies, Faamita headed to Romania where he played rugby union – a long way from the Centenary Panthers rugby league club where he played his first game of footy as a teenager.
“Living and playing in Romania was a great experience for me – I learned a lot and got to see a part of the world that I didn’t know much about,” Faamita said.
“I came back and played at Norths but, towards the end of 2017, I wasn’t enjoying my footy any more.
“I went to Goodna Eagles (in 2018) to play with some mates and I just loved it. It got me back to playing footy for fun.”
While the Goodna stint was a turning point for Faamita, 27, it left him with a serious knee injury that will delay his start to the 2019 season.
He has been working hard on his rehabilitation at the Devils and will aim for one of the backrow spots in a competitive race for Intrust Super Cup places.
“The ACL injury was a blessing in disguise for me because it’s proved to me how much I love playing footy,” Faamita said.
“I’ve been rehabbing at Norths since April. Rohan and Terry (CEO Terry Reader) were very generous in letting me come back here for rehab.
“The club has changed a lot in the last couple of years. There’s a great feeling here and I can’t wait to get back out there playing.”
Faamita is a flatmate of Devils winger Paul Ulberg, providing him with a good insight into how an overhauled Devils’ team made a charge at the finals in 2018.