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Proud moment for Greytown RC

Rocco Berry reacts during his NRL debut against Melbourne Storm. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

RUGBY LEAGUE

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Anzac Day was a proud moment for the Greytown Rugby Club, as one of their favourite sons, Rocco Berry ran on to Melbourne’s AAMI Park for his NRL debut against Melbourne Storm.

Rocco Berry outrunning the Martinborough defence in his Greytown JAB days. PHOTO/FILE

Berry, the son of former All Black and Greytown stalwart Marty Berry, played all his junior rugby for Greytown before going to St Patrick’s Silverstream, where he was the First XV’s star fullback.

Berry’s talent was recognised early by the talent scouts, and he was courted by several Super Rugby clubs, including the Hurricanes, before the New Zealand Warriors secured his much sought-after signature in 2019.

Greytown premier coach Mark Childs said it was a special moment to see the 19-year-old make his debut for the Warriors on such a big occasion.

“We probably knew he was going to get a go this year at some stage, but to do it against the Melbourne Storm on Anzac Day, you probably don’t get a bigger test than that,” Childs said.

“Marty has always said Rocco has always loved rugby league and had a passion for that game, and now he’s on the big stage.

“He doesn’t look out of place, he’s big and physical, he’s close to 100kg, and I like the fact that [Warriors coach] Nathan Brown is giving the young guys a crack. Hopefully, they stick with it.”

Berry’s parents Marty and Andrea, flew in from Newcastle, where Marty is coaching rugby, for the game.

Two of his childhood friends Raniera Petersen, also now in Newcastle, and Gracyn Evans from Greytown, were also there to witness his debut.

Childs felt that Berry did well on a tough night against one of the NRL powerhouses.

“For his lack of experience, he went bloody well. He made his tackles on the edge, but he got let down a bit by [Kodi] Nikorima on his inside, either jamming in on defence or not sliding.

“It was obvious, at halftime you look at the tries, and most of them were down that edge but Nikorima for me, with his experience, sometimes he jammed in when he didn’t need to and wasn’t trusting his inside defender and that sort of left Rocco in no-man’s land, which was a shame because when Rocco was in the right position to make the tackles, he looked good.

“All in all, though to play 80 minutes at that speed in his first game, he’ll take a huge amount out of that.”

Brown confirmed Childs’ comments that Nikorima needed to do more on defence and that Berry, who had only played five or six rugby league games, would learn a lot from the game.

Brown said that it was the perfect time to blood Berry and the other debutant, fullback Reece Walsh [18], who had a hand in three of the Warriors’ four tries.

“For some of the young blokes to gain some experience, it was great, and it doesn’t get any tougher than coming here and on debut, it’s probably one of the hardest places.”

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