By STEVE MASCORD
WHEN Jason Ryles and Luke Bailey played junior football together, they thought they’d spend their entire careers in the same front row.
On Saturday evening at AAMI Park, a career that has taken Ryles from Wollongong to Perpignan, Sydney and Melbourne will take it’ penultimate step – and Bailey will be packing down against him.
“When you’re young, you think you’ll always be at the one club,” Ryles, who came through the Illawarra Steelers junior ranks with Bailey, tells Fairfax Media.
“But all these years later, it’s funny how I’m not playing my last regular season comp game and Bails is going to be there in the opposition.
“He was always younger than me so I guess I always thought he’d last a little longer. He was always a bit fitter than me, too!”
Bailey plans to play on at Gold Coast next year while Ryles will return to where it all started when he joins Wollongong Wests as captain-coach.
“I sent him a text of a picture off the TV recently, of a bloke who looked like him,” Ryles, 34, said. “He mustn’t have been impressed – this bloke was bald – but Matt Cooper thought it was hilarious.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Bails at fulltime.”
The Titans have given prop Nate Myles “until kick-off” to prove he has overcome an ankle injury.
“He’s a lot better today,” said John Cartwright.
“He still hasn’t had a run. He’s very honest Nate and if he doesn’t think he can get through the game, then he won’t play. But we will leave that up until kick-off tomorrow. He’s that important to the team, we’ll give him that long.”
And Storm fullback Billy Slater said defence had been a priority at training after last week’s loss to Manly.
“You’d like to be winning this time of year but performing well is probably more important and that, we didn’t do last week,” Slater told reporters.
“We’ve been focusing on defence. Leaking 28 points is obviously not very good, although Manly, they were very good.
“Obviously he’s going through a tough period in his life. It’s up to him and the people around him to get him back on track. I’m sure he would have been enjoying playing football last night.”
NB: Since this story appeared, Melbourne beat Gold Coast 23-22 in golden point time.,
Filed for: THE AGE