BRIBIE Island product Jack Reed is poised to make a dramatic breakthrough with the Brisbane Broncos.
Reed, 22, has experienced a rapid rise though the ranks at the club after being invited to join an extended training squad during the off-season and is in line for an NRL debut this year.
He could even be produced in the Broncos’ round-one blockbuster against North Queensland.
Reed and fellow young gun Dane Gagai have been mooted as potential replacements for Justin Hodges if the star three-quarter does not recover from injury in time for the season opener at Suncorp Stadium next Friday.
Hodges is battling a minor hamstring tear and has said he will not push the limits to play against the Cowboys if his hamstring is not right.
He has only just recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon, which prevented him playing in the 2010 season, and would dread another long stint on the sidelines.
“It would be disappointing to miss the game,” Hodges said.
“I’d love to be out there for round one, but it’s a long season and obviously I have to be patient.”
Reed was confident Hodges would play next week but remained hopeful of getting a call-up sometime during the season.
“It’s all on the coach’s head. They (Broncos officials) haven’t really hinted anything,” Reed said.
“But they’ll probably stick with Hodgey and Gerard Beale in the centres and if worst comes to worst I might fill in if they need me to.”
That Reed is in line for an NRL debut is remarkable in itself.
“I was only meant to be training one day a week with the Broncos, but I worked hard and somehow managed to pull myself into the top squad,” he said.
“It’s a bit surreal training with (Darren) Lockyer and Corey Parker and the boys, but they’re just like all other blokes.
“THEY get along really well and they all have a laugh, so it’s good,” Reed said.
The 182cm, 98kg centre/backrower has impressed officials with his enthusiasm and form in trials.
“The coaches last year reckon I never shut up on and off the field, so I guess that helps out a fair bit in the line of defence and in attack, so I guess that’s one of my strong points,” he said.
“I’ve played all three trials and I’ve done well. They (team officials) have kept me playing, so I must be doing all right in there.”
Reed, who moved to Bribie Island from Ipswich as a 12-year-old, was a late bloomer in the game.
“I was actually one of the low-key players as a junior,” he said. “I played a little bit for Sunshine Coast, school and club but never really hit my straps until I was about 18 playing colts football. I was too small, actually.”
Reed linked with Norths Devils last year and followed in the footsteps of another Bribie Island player-turned Bronco, Matt Gillett.
“Me and Gillo have been good mates since we were about 13,” Reed said.
“We’re the same age. I went to school with him and played club footy with him and against him. Gillett was one of the finds of 2010.
“He’s unbelievable with his footwork and his speed and his size. He’s killing it out there.”
Gillett was quick to give his mate some advice when Reed linked with the Broncos during the off-season.
“When I got there he just said to act like it’s just another day, be confident and talk like I normally would,” Reed said.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.