Dillon earns his NRL debut

He’s warmed up prior to all five Sharks NRL matches this season, only to go back into the sheds, change into his club polo shirt and shorts and watch the action from the grandstand.

Such is the role of the 18th man, with his duties on game day to be ready if and when called upon in case of injury or emergency and through five games this season, that player for the Sharks has been local junior Kurt Dillon.

Dillon travelled as a part of the 19-man NRL squad to Townsville for round one and when Luke Lewis went down in the warm up, coach Shane Flanagan opted to bring the versatile Kurt Capewell into his 17.

Ava Seumanufagai had a niggle leading into another match, recovered in time to play and the Dillon debut again didn’t materialise.

Same when Paul Gallen was in doubt ahead of the Sharks round three game against the Eels.

The De La Salle Caringbah product kept his chin up, kept working hard, knowing his opportunity would come and what better time to play that first match in the NRL, than in a local derby clash with the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Named in jersey 15, Dillon will get his chance tomorrow night and according to Flanagan, he won’t let anyone down.

“He goes hammer and tong at training. He’s done his time. He is a hardhead. A big boy who plays big minutes, I love the way he plays,” Flanagan said.

“I’m excited for him. He’s worked hard for it, shown a lot of determination and perseverance. We’ve had injuries but they’ve been in the backs, so he’s been 18th man every week and he’s probably a little bit overdue.”

Playing through the Sharks junior rep system, before graduating to the Holden Cup, Dillon would then move to the Newtown Jets where he played the 2015, 2016 seasons.

The following season the now-23-year-old front rower moved back to the Sharks as a full-time NRL squad member, however he continued to spend his weekend’s at the Jets and wasn’t called upon to play in the top grade but such was his form throughout the year, was awarded the Brian “Chicka” Moore Shield as Newtown’s Best and Fairest for 2017.

Further highlighting the year that he had, Dillon was also chosen in the NSW Rugby League’s Intrust Super Premiership NSW team of the year, no mean feat from a club that finished well out of finals contention.

Continuing to tick the boxes, Dillon had an outstanding summer on the training paddock and after showing admirable patience through the opening month and a bit of the 2018 season, is about to finally get his chance.  

“I just try to go out there, get through my work and do my job. And hope not to let anyone down,” Dillon said in the Daily Telegraph earlier in the year.

All at the Sharks wish Dillon every success on debut when he runs out as the 520th Sharks First grade player tomorrow night, with a long and effective career to follow.

Photo - Kurt Dillon playing SG Ball for the Sharks