Three years after the Parramatta Eels scouted and signed him as a “big, aggressive, strong and athletic” centre, Ethan Parry’s seemingly irresistible ascent to the top has continued with his selection on the wing in the Australian Schoolboys side.
And the man who spotted the former Oxley High School student, introducing his immense talent to a much wider community, is proud like the 18-year-old’s father, Troy.
Anthony Field, the Eels’ recruitment and retention manager, not only plucked Parry from obscurity after seeing him play at the country championships at Port Macquarie in 2015, but he has watched over the teen as he made the often fraught transition from a rural to a city setting, at the famed league nursery, St Gregory’s College, Campbelltown.
Like many highly challenging endeavours, there have been moments of deep despair.
Parry was sidelined for six months after suffering what Field described as an “unfortunate and horrific injury” – dislocating his ankle and fracturing his tibia and fibula at the 2016 NSW combined Catholic college trials.
The injury occurred in the final minute of a game in which Parry was named man of the match, and, according to Field, robbed him of a certain Australian Schoolboys jumper that year despite him only being in Year 11 at the time.
“Predominantly, Ethan had to get used to training with the pain in his ankle because the plate and pins remain,” Field said. “It was more a confidence, a psychological, issue to overcome. It was very traumatic.”
On May 6, the 101 kilogram, 195 centimetre back scored three tries in Parramatta’s SG Ball Cup grand final win over Cronulla.
Two weeks later, he scored another hat-trick when the Eels beat Toowoomba’s Western Mustangs in the under-18 national final.
He then played on the wing in NSW’s defeat of Queensland in an under-18 clash before State of Origin II at ANZ Stadium on June 21.
The Australian Schoolboys side was named following the national secondary schools championships at St Marys this month.
Next stop, New Zealand. Australia’s two-Test series against the Kiwis starts in Rotorua on September 26 and concludes in Auckland on September 30.
“He has the natural ability [to play NRL],” Field said. “He’s blessed with the physical capabilities. The rest is going to be effort and attitude on behalf of Ethan.”
The first time Parry wore the Australian jersey was a very special moment.
“I can’t even describe the feeling,” he said. “It was overwhelming, knowing the people before me who have put the jersey on.”
Parry added: “One hundred per cent [he wants to play NRL]. Any kid who plays the game, that should always be the main goal.”
Troy Parry described his son as “very level headed”.
“Moving to Sydney on your own as a teenage boy sort of does that,” he said. “But he had some good people looking after him at Parramatta.”
Field’s handling of his boy “can’t be faulted”, he said, adding: “He’s done everything he can, above and beyond, for Ethan. They’ve [the Eels] had big plans for Ethan from the start.”