Pure mental and physical strength: how Dom Young fights to defeat English outside the back hoodoo


Newcastle Knights young star Dom Young is not a man used to being small. He’s nearly 2m tall and weighs 107kg, which even by NRL winger standards is really, really big. In fact, he’s pretty much the tallest in the competition.

In 2021, however, the former Huddersfield giant might have been forgiven for feeling small: his form has had its ups and downs during his first year in Australia, head coach Adam O’Brien said. having been benched for the last six weeks of the Knights season.

His defense was considered suspect, as was his capture – but no one doubted his raw physique and attributes.

Even less the man himself, despite being on the other side of the world, far from traditional support networks.

“I blocked it,” Young said. “It didn’t affect me too much but it was the first time I had to face it. I don’t read too much.

“It was hard not having this family. You can talk to them at home, but they’re not there to support you properly.

“I had to lean on my comrades and show mental toughness. At the end of the day, I’ve always had a lot of confidence in my own game, so I’m not too bothered by noise outside.

“I want to put that in the past and have a fresh start this season to show everyone what I am.”

Young stands in a long line of Super League products to have a chance in the NRL – Oliver Gildart made his debut at the weekend – but traditionally outside backs have struggled far more than their fellow forwards.

Young was optimistic and backed his superior size and speed to help him succeed if others failed.

“I want to stop this tendency of England outside backs coming in and struggling,” Young said confidently. “I want to play every week and impress.”

“I think it’s my physical qualities that are helping me at the moment; I just try to show that every week.

Young received a little help along the way – before and after arriving in Australia.

“I spoke with Jordan Turner who was at Canberra, he was good to me at Huddersfield and helped me out a bit,” the winger said of his preparation to come halfway around the world.

“The NRL players there (in Huddersfield) gave me a little advice and I definitely took it on board.

“Having this year under my belt at the start of the season has definitely helped me too. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this year.

“It’s just having this full pre-season under my belt; I feel much fitter than last year,”

“I’m a bit used to it now, there are no surprises, nothing new. I feel like I know what I have to do and what Adzy (Adam O’Brien) and everyone else wants from me now, so I can just focus on that.

“I guess I learned how the game is played here. Of course, it’s very different. I just learned what it takes to be at this level, the requirements on and off the pitch.

“This year has helped me a lot. This is a difficult work. I invested a lot in this pre-season to get the reps and that helps me.

Even though it is only in its infancy, the work seems to be bearing fruit. Young stood out in Newcastle’s upset victory over the Sydney Roosters at the weekend, scoring a try and dominating one of the NRL’s most established wingers, Daniel Tupou.

His game has improved drastically and, if 2022 were to continue in the same vein, there is a big carrot at the end of the Rugby League World Cup.

Young, who is eligible for both England and Jamaica, is aiming firmly for the here and now but knows what rewards are there if he can stay consistent.

“I want to play regularly every weekend and I didn’t last year so that’s one of my big goals,” said Young, who was born in Yorkshire with grandparents who emigrated. of the Caribbean.

“I’m looking forward to the end of the year and I really want to be at the World Cup.

“We want to be in the NRL final – we have just knocked out a Roosters side who have some quality players.

“We’re not going to push ourselves too hard, but at the end of the day, not many people thought we were going to win this game. We are here to prove a point and make a statement.

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