Rashaun Denny’s move to the Northern Pride is proof of the fact that you never know when someone is watching and taking note of your promise.
The former Norths Devils back received a call out of the blue from Pride coach Ty Williams last year, just as the Devils were starting to prepare for their 2022 finals campaign.
It was an unexpected call, but one that changed the trajectory of his career.
“The first week of finals with Norths last year, I didn’t get named and Ty gave me a call and was just seeing what my movements were for this year,” Denny said.
“I was in and out of the Cup through injuries and selections and Ty just told me there was an opportunity for me to play week in, week out footy up here.
“I was really surprised. I didn’t even know how he got my number.
“I was really shocked but happy to see coaches are looking at other teams and players. I was really happy to hear what he had to offer and it lined up with what I wanted.”
Despite the uncertainty for Denny of week-to-week selection at Norths – especially with the Brisbane Broncos affiliates coming and going – he was very grateful to the club for everything they gave him.
Denny was there during the club’s two premiership seasons and even got to play in last year’s NRL State Championship against Penrith Panthers, scoring a try in his side’s loss.
“It was huge for me and my development,” Denny said of his time at Norths.
Norths Devils: Grand final win to NRL State Championship
“Obviously they gave me my Cup debut when (coach) Rohan Smith was there. Just being around guys like Jack Ahearn, Michael Sio, Vaha Pulu, real leaders in the squad, was huge.
“Connor Broadhurst also really helped me and gave me a lot of direction and taught me how to play in the outside backs.
“Having those guys with the level heads and experience, it really helped.”
And now Denny is settling in well to his new hometown of Cairns and new club at the Pride.
The club have a bye for Round 1, giving them an extra week of preparations, and have a number of new faces among the squad, including Denny, Justin Frain, Harry Freebairn, Dantoray Lui and Jaymon Moore.
“We’ve had a really good pre-season,” Denny said.
“The boys have been very welcoming and it’s a different lifestyle up here. Brissie it’s always 100 miles an hour but here it’s more relaxed. The weather can be a bit dodgy with the rain and all but it’s beautiful.
“For me this year, I want to just play consistently good footy throughout the year. Hopefully make the finals with the new team.
“Then, hopefully if all goes well, pick up a train and trial deal of some sort with an NRL club.”
As for his relationship with Williams, it’s gone from that first surprising phone call to a strong coach-player connection.
Denny said Williams was treated like a “god” of the north and it was easy to see why when you not only look back at what he achieved across his NRL career with the North Queensland Cowboys and Queensland Maroons, but when you look at him as a coach.
“It’s actually pretty crazy,” Denny said.
“You never really think about the accolades he’s achieved as a player so to learn off him, it’s perfect for me, especially since he played in the outside backs.
“He’s very good one-on-one with the players, he has a real good connection. He’s really good to have around for me.
“He’s been supportive and I’ve been looking forward to learning a lot more from Ty and to see where it takes me.”
‘The emotions you have right now… make sure you remember them’ – Ty Williams
Northern Pride 2023 gains and losses
Rashaun Denny (Norths Devils), Ryan Flegler (Northern Pride Hastings Deering Colts), Justin Frain (Townsville Blackhawks), Harry Freebairn (Mackay Cutters), Zane Knowles (Ivanhoe Knights), Dantoray Lui (Parramatta Eels), Jaymon Moore (Townsville Blackhawks), Feao Tongia (Manly Sea Eagles), Pone Tongia (Manly Sea Eagles), Rhy Young (Ivanhoe Knights)
Jahoiyakim Afoa (Newcastle Knights), Shawn Bowen (released), Terrence Casey Douglas (injury), Robert Derby (North Queensland Cowboys), Taulata Fakalelu (released), Gideon Gela-Mosby (Wynnum Seagulls), Adam Hepworth (released), Nick Lui-Toso (St George Illawarra Dragons), Tom McGrath (Brisbane Tigers), Joseph Ratuvakacerivalu (released), Mark Rosendale (released), Thomas Steadman (Burleigh Bears), Jacob Wallace (injury)