FORM: Central Newcastle fullback Jake Maizen has scored six tries in the opening three matches of the Newcastle Rugby League season. They were his first games in the top grade. Picture: Jonathan CarrollBarista by morning, Butcher Boy by night.
Jake Maizen takes orders of flat whites with two sugarsin his day job at a Hamilton cafe, but the calls aren’t quite as sweet on the field when chiming into the Central Newcastle backline.
“That’s a bit more serious than a cappuccino,” Maizen said.
The Cardiff 20-year-old has started his Newcastle Rugby League career on a try-scoring note, with the fullback crossing six times in his first three games in the top grade.
A member of Central’s under-19 grand final side last season, new club coach Craig Miller decided to give the youngster a shot in the No.1 jersey and sofar it has paid dividends.
Maizen opened 2017 with a four-pointer away at Kurri last month, followed up with a double at home against Lakes and nabbed a hat-trick playing Maitland at CoronationOval on Saturday.
“They [my teammates]make everything super easy for me,” Maizen said.
“I really just have to run my lines and it’s pretty much on a platter for me. My role is simplified and they just make me look good.”
And although having the likes of experienced campaigners Brad Murray,Steve Gordon and Shaun Metcalf around him, not all of Maizen’s tries have simply been walk overs.
It includes at least one from a line-break on halfway, slicing and dicing through the defence before sprinting away to claim the points.
But coach Miller hasn’t been all that surprised, he was impressed from the start.
“When I took over at the club I had a few weeks to watch the 19s and I thought they had a couple of really good young players that would hopefully push through into first grade,” Miller said.
“Jake was one of them so I was keen to get to training and see what he was like, but the more time we spent together and the more we got into team specifics he really took my notice.
“It’s his speed, his evasion and his football sense, and he’s a good kid to go with it.”
And to boot the Butcher Boys have a share of the competition lead, undefeated approaching the fourth round against Cessnock at St John Oval on Sunday.
“It’s been a good start, but I’mjust trying to be there week in and week out,” Maizen said.
“I’m not focusing on the tries too much, just happy with the wins.”
It hasn’t always been that successful during his time at the club, with firstsmaking the semis just twice since he kicked off in under 13s.
Prior to that he playedjuniors at Western Suburbs after starting at South Newcastle.
“It’s been unreal at Central and I wouldn’t go anywhere else,” he said.
“I’m happy there. That’s my footy home.”