HE’S like a pig in mud in the rough and tumble of the forwards but Pirates second -rower Blake Pollock hasn’t always been one of the piggies.
Only a couple of years ago Pollock was playing on the wing and happy out there.
In fact, he thought the idea of moving to the forwards was crazy.
He posted as much after being told he’d be playing in the forwards at the Armidale Knockout last year.
They had too many backs and were in need of a couple of forwards so Pollock was manufactured into a forward for the day.
“I was thrown into the unknown,”Pollock said.
“I didn’t have much of an an idea what to do.”
It turned out to be a great move.
While he went on to play most of the season in second grade and off the bench for first grade, this season the 21-year-old has established himself as a key cog in the Pirates pack, as he showed in their minor semi-final win two weeks ago.
He was one of their best against Gunnedah, with coach Garry Walsh commenting that his work-rate was phenomenal.
But that’s not an irregular occurrence.
“He’s most probably the smallest second-rower in size but he’d have the highest work-rate of any tight five player in the zone,” Walsh said.
He sees him as a “go-to man”.
Pollock, too, now very much considers himself a forward.
“I wouldn’t change it,” he said.
“I love getting more involved.
“You get a lot more time on the ball and in defence you get a lot more contact.”
He said cementing a first grade spot was his goal for the season.
Now he has a shot at playing in a grand final, with Pirates tackling Inverell on Saturday for the right to play Walcha in the decider.
If they do it won’t be his first taste of grand final football.
In his first year with Pirates his U19s side made the decider but he played in the centres that day.
They won, beating Narrabri to finish the season undefeated.
On what Pirates showed against the Red Devils they are a good chance of getting through, particularly defensively.
That was what won it for them, Pollock said.
“They kept coming at us hard but had no answers,” he said.
They were also a lot more effective at the breakdown too, which led to a lot cleaner ball.
“Previous weeks we’ve had a lack of numbers at the breakdown,” he said.
“Against Gunnedah we came with force and were able to overpower them at the breakdown.”
Whatever happens though, Pollock’s season won’t be over.
He and a couple of team-mates are off to Scotland to play the season over there with Cartha Queen’s Park.
“Me, James Trappel and Jake Douglas are going over,” Pollock said.
“I’m looking forward to that.”
Even if it will mean seven more months of rugby.
There will be little time to recover should Pirates make the grand final, with the three flying out on the 18th.
Pirates received a boost ahead of their finals showdown with the Highlanders, with Conrad Starr cleared by the neurologist to play on Saturday.
The number eight was allegedly king-hit two weeks ago and there was some doubt he’d be available.