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Donovan on Ahearn: 'He's just a people's champ'

Norths Devils captain Jack Ahearn is one-of-a-kind.

If you ask his teammates, he is one of the best people in rugby league - a fierce and fair competitor, funny and a genuinely good person. 

It's all of these things that will be missed when Ahearn reluctantly hangs up his boots after Saturday's Round 22 clash with PNG Hunters at Bishop Park.

Ahearn, 30, told his Devils family in June he would pull up stumps as he begins his new career as a firefighter in November.

The decision came with the realisation the time he could devote to football alongside his family commitments with wife Brianna, son Kyrie and daughter Zariah, would be limited.

Devils halfback Bryce Donovan said it was hard to put into words the impact Ahearn had across the club and the game.

"He's very team-first, family-oriented," Donovan said.

"He puts himself last in all situations... on the field as well. I know he's a leader but he wants to make sure the team's doing well before him.

"He's just a people's champ."

Bryce Donovan with daughter Willow and Jack Ahearn with daughter Zariah.
Bryce Donovan with daughter Willow and Jack Ahearn with daughter Zariah.

Donovan, who has played his Hostplus Cup career across both Norths and Redcliffe Dolphins, said he always enjoyed playing alongside Ahearn.

"It's been fun," Donovan said.

"I'm grateful for coming to Norths my first time and meeting JA. He's become more than a teammate. He's my best friend and a brother to me now. He helped me regain my love of footy and take it to another level.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't give him the send off that he deserves. But, yeah, it's been fun."

Donovan said he would miss Ahearn's sense of humour.

"I don't know if many people know other than the boys at Norths, but he's very funny actually," Donovan said.

Bryce Donovan and Jack Ahearn.
Bryce Donovan and Jack Ahearn.

"Very dry sense of humour. I'll miss his dad jokes around training and, yeah, pretending he's got a Kiwi accent.

"We both enjoy finishing together and chasing snapper... now with some extra time, he might actually be able to catch one bigger than me."

Donovan said he was sure Ahearn would be as successful as a firefighter as he was on the field. And he was sure the Devils would continue to flourish, despite the hole Ahearn would leave.

"The future of this club is really bright. Obviously, it's gonna take a dent with someone like Jack not here. But, the future's bright," Donovan said.

"We've still got the right people in the right places. So, yeah, it's exciting."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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