EXCLUSIVE

Parkes junior Darby Medlyn to make NRL debut with Canberra Raiders

EARNED A CHANCE: Darby Medlyn's attitude has been praised by Raiders coaches ahead of his NRL debut this weekend. Photo: CANBERRA RAIDERS
EARNED A CHANCE: Darby Medlyn's attitude has been praised by Raiders coaches ahead of his NRL debut this weekend. Photo: CANBERRA RAIDERS

A bush footy junior who never shies away from a challenge and thrives on getting through a mountain of work up front.

That's what current Canberra Raiders assistant coach Brett White was during his career and it's something he sees in Parkes product Darby Medlyn as well.

White and the Raiders club have been buzzing this week after head coach Ricky Stuart named four debutants for this weekend's NRL final round meeting with Cronulla.

Former Spacemen star Medlyn is among those and he will run out with the Raiders for the first time on Saturday, having left home for the nation's capital after the 2017 Group 11 season.

Medlyn is someone White has had plenty to do with and from seeing him sacrifice so much this year off the field to putting in a huge amount of work on it, the assistant coach couldn't more pleased the 20-year-old is finally getting his chance.

"What he brings on the field is pretty much the bloke he is," White said.

"He's your typical country boy who wants to do all the tough stuff. He just gets on with his job and won't let his mates down and I love working with Darby based on the person he is.

"You can tell he's from out in a country area just based on his morals as a person and that flows on to the way he plays his footy.

"They're the kids you want to coach and the ones you enjoy have success."

When named to debut from the bench by Stuart on Tuesday, Medlyn said he was "grateful" for the opportunity and the chance to line up alongside so many players he has looked up to.

The back-rower impressed in the lower grades last year and was part of the NSW side that defeated Queensland in the under 20s State of Origin match.

But as well as his ability, it's that attitude and the way Medlyn has committed himself this year which has made such a big impact on the Raiders' coaching team.

This season has been a hugely challenging one for players on the fringe of NRL selection after the state's lower grade competitions were all cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That's meant no regular football for those who don't make the final 17 each week and income has also been effected while living in the NRL bubble means all players are "not leading a normal life".

But the former Western Rams junior captain has continued to turn up and put in the work on the training paddock while he's also someone who spends a huge amount of time at the post-training video sessions with White each and every week.

"It's something we as coaches look at. We ask 'how willing is this kid to work on their game and how much time are they willing to put in to better themselves' and I tell you, Darby has been one of the best at working hard to better himself," White said.

"It's great to see someone like Darby, who has stuck it out and toughed it out and has not faulted in training or preparation all year .... have all that hard work now pay off when he runs out on Saturday."

While the selections have come about due to Stuart opting to rest some key players ahead of the looking finals, that in no ways means the jerseys haven't been earned.

Matt Frawley has played NRL previously with the Bulldogs but earns his first Raiders jersey on Saturday while the match will be the first in the top grade for Medlyn, Jarrett Subloo, and fullback Adam Cook.

"It is a big deal. Jumpers don't just get handed out," White said.

"Ricky hasn't just made the decision to put whoever in there. He's been able to rest NRL players because of the trust he has in the preparation these young boys have put into their games, which is the key thing.

"It's more these young boys have given Ricky all coaches and staff the trust that they'll go out and do their job and we're going to Sydney to win."

The Raiders take on the Sharks from 5.30pm on Saturday.