Fans of the Intrust Super Cup would have been forgiven for doing a double take during the Round 11 Gold Coast Titans match against Penrith Panthers at the sight of Jamal Fogarty streaming down his right touchline to score a try.
The halfback’s first NRL try, which came after he scooped up a Penrith miss-kick just out from his own try line, was eerily reminiscent of grand final day last year where he produced a similar effort to add a cherry to the Burleigh Bears premiership victory.
“The little legs got me there in the end, I didn’t think I was going to get there – but happy to get the try and get the boys going,” Fogarty said when asked to describe how he felt about his first NRL four-pointer.
“It’s up there (as one of my best tries), especially considering it’s my first ever NRL try – so between that one and the one in the Intrust Super Cup grand final last year, they are pretty much the exact same, can’t split them.
“(What I was thinking when I saw the ball was) just pick the ball up and try and run 20 metres and not let the team come off the try line, but the little legs just kept going and I think I was pretty lucky to get there in the end.
“The Penrith boys were coming in numbers, so I think I was fairly lucky to be honest.”
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Some extra training during the football shutdown period also appeared to work a treat, with Fogarty having worked on his sprinting.
“I did a little bit of stuff with one of our trainers Joel (Grech) here, so he’s been claiming that the sprint training over the COVID break (working on take off and technique helped), so I’ll give him the rap for that.”
Overall, it has been quite the year so far for halfback, let along an eventful past few months; with the reigning Petero Civoniceva Medallist signing a development contract with the Titans – the club he made his NRL debut with in 2017 – in early March.
Since then, the Beaudesert junior was the Hastings Deering man of the match in Burleigh's Round 1 Intrust Super Cup win against Wynnum Manly and experienced the football shutdown period before moving into the starting side for the Titans in Round 3.
There, he made an immediate impact in the team, taking pressure off his halves partner Ash Taylor and earning praise for his contributions to the side.
“It’s been a funny start to the year, to start down there at Burleigh and then being able to come up here with the contract and the COVID stuff happened and then to be able to put together a couple of games, it’s been quite a fun journey to start off with for myself,” Fogarty said.
“I am just very happy with the way things are going for myself and obviously the team are going in the right direction.”
While the Titans have struggled to climb the NRL ladder – they claimed three wins so far this season – their gutsy performances, including against the top-of-the-table Penrith at the weekend, have won them plenty of plaudits, but Fogarty knows there are areas to improve on.
“We started a bit slow and gave Penrith too much ball and they made us pay for it, but for us to claw our way back in and put ourselves in a good position at half-time, that’s full credit to the boys for ripping in,” Fogarty said.
“They got us on the jump in the start, but then for us to hang in there and not put our heads down and stay in the fight until half-time, that was an enormous effort from everyone in the team.
“(My improvements to my game will be) just about taking control, we need to get better kicks to the end of our sets, obviously we let ourselves down, but that’s my role; so executing our kicking game definitely needs to be a bit better, but just being consistent would be the main message (from coach Justin Holbrook) and just sticking to our structure and principles.”
While Fogarty himself isn’t on social media to see it, some of the biggest fans of his NRL career are his former Burleigh Bears team mates who were willing him to go his hardest when running the length of the field to score his impressive try against the Panthers.
However, Fogarty knows the support is there, and they all continue keep in touch.
“The boys send me a text message during the week and after the game... obviously I talk to them, they are my closest mates and always will be,” Fogarty said.
“We are always sending back-and-forth text messages and stuff on WhatsApp, we will always keep in touch, we are pretty tight-knitted blokes, even though it is a bit hard for us to catch up with COVID, but we are always in touch.”
This weekend, Fogarty will be gearing up for another almighty challenge, with the Titans facing off against NRL premiers Sydney Roosters as part of NRL Indigenous Round.
For Fogarty, a proud Mununjali man from Beaudesert whose family and connections to country are from there as well, it is a special round on the rugby league calendar.
“We have a lot of Indigenous boys here at the club and to be able to - for myself - be a part of it and run out this weekend and represent our cultures is probably going to be one of the highlights of my career so far,” Fogarty said.
“To be able to do it with some of the other boys in the team – it’s massive for our club, and the design looks nice, so I can’t wait to get out there and put the jersey on.”