Some rugby league players can go through their entire career never winning a grand final and, for 15 seasons, it seemed that hard working front-rower Blake Chaffey would join that unenviable list.
That was until last month when the Raymond Terrace junior lifted not one, but two premiership-winning trophies just 10 days apart.
The 24-year-old from Medowie was able to back up a grand-final victory with the Macquarie Scorpions in the Newcastle Rugby League reserve grade competition with a career highlight as a member of the winning Newcastle All Blacks (NAB) team in the prestigious Koori Cup.
Chaffey’s Macquarie teammates Tye Alchin and Aaron Simon also completed the rare double.
“After 15 years and five grand finals, it was quite special to finally win my first premiership with Macquarie then to follow that up in the Koori knock-out a week later,” Chaffey said.
“Prior to that week I said to my family that if I win the double I will hang up the boots. But looking forward it’s hard to call it quits now, particularly after winning the Koori knock-out with all my NAB brothers so I’m not sure on retirement just yet.”
A proud indigenous man, Chaffey joined the Port Stephens Sharks after his junior days with the Terrace and moved to Macquarie four years ago.
While Chaffey and his Scorpion teammates manged to cruise home in a 34-10 win over Central, the NAB boys had to come from an 18-nil half-time deficit and kick a last-minute field goal to snatch the coveted Koori Cup.
“For the first two years of the Koori knock-out I played with the Worimi Dolphins which was great because I wasn’t just representing my Worimi family, but I also got to play alongside my older brother, my cousins and some of my childhood mates.
“But after my switch to the Macquarie Scorpions I was asked to represent NAB in the knock-out and play alongside the brothers I play football with every weekend.
“I accepted and over the past three years we have been through the highs and the lows, through the blood, sweat and a lot of tears until we finally got the victory we have worked so hard for.”
Chaffey said that the half-time speech provided the motivation for the team to come back in the Koori final, played against La Perouse, in Dubbo.
“Our expectations at the start of the tournament were simple, play hard footy and keep turning up for each other, and that’s what we did.
“At half-time of the grand final our coaches reminded us of the hardest 40 minutes we had ahead of us and our desire to bring home the cup.
“Fortunately we had some great leaders and in the end each player, to a man, put their hand up in the toughest of times to help the team grind out a memorable victory.”
Chaffey said rugby league had been good to him and that there were many people in his life who had helped him achieve his lifetime goal.
“The thing I love most about the game is the feeling you get when you run out onto the field and everything changes … you just know that each player standing next to you is willing to put their body on the line.
“I appreciate the support from my mum, dad and fiance who have all helped me with the hard decisions. I also want to thank my ex-Macquarie coach Barrie Moore who took me to the club which started my journey with both the Scorpions and NAB.”
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