He’s attempting to fill the shoes of one the key men in Cronulla’s NRL premiership success, but rookie hooker Jayden Brailey already has the admirations of skipper Paul Gallen.
The retirement of Michael Ennis after the grand final had been one of the Sharks’ biggest off-season personnel changes leading to questions over their capacity to defend their crown.
Although he’s a long way from being the finished product, Brailey’s strong form in the Sharks first two matches of the season has been encouraging.
The 20-year-old scored his first NRL try in Cronulla’s 42-16 thrashing of Canberra at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.
“As far as being aggressive and have that right attitude to play first-grade, he’s got that in spades,” Gallen said of Brailey.
“If he keeps working on his attack and gets better then the sky is the limit for him.”
Ennis has played his part in mentoring his successor off the training pitch as well as guiding him in his role as the Sharks’ hooking coach.
“He trains really hard which is what I like,” Gallen said.
“He doesn’t get ahead of himself, listens to Michael Ennis at training enormously.
“Ennis has been great for him.”
Coach Shane Flanagan is a big fan of Brailey having known the local junior for most of his life.
“Jayden’s going to be around for a long period of time,” Flanagan said.
“He’s got all the qualities.”
With the hooker position one of Cronulla’s most worrying off-season changes, Brailey’s timely emergence could solve a major headache.
The 2016 Holden Cup player of the year is set to be thrown into the cauldron of a Cronulla-St George Illawarra derby next week in what will be another early test of his mettle.
“In a local derby all the form goes out the window and it comes down to a pretty tough game,” Gallen said.