Twelve months after lining up in park footy for the Cessnock Goannas, Kerrod Holland will face one of rugby league’s most formidable tasks in marking Parramatta superstars Semi Radradra and Michael Jennings.
The meteoric rise of the 23-year-old Canterbury centre is the stuff of dreams but he faces the prospect of coming crashing back to reality lining up opposite the pair of superstars at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
After making a dream debut, kicking the winning goal after the siren to beat Penrith in round two, Holland has made a strong case for a permanent spot in Des Hasler’s best 17.
It was one year ago, after finishing his electrician’s apprenticeship, that Holland decided he had a fire burning in him to play NRL and didn’t want to die with the music in him.
Having spent a pre-season with the Newcastle Knights reserves, he fought his way into their NSW Cup team, won the premiership with them and was named in the NSW Cup team of the year.
It’s then that Canterbury came knocking and the door really opened up for him.
“As a young bloke, I did an apprenticeship, went around the tracks and I thought to myself `would I be good enough to play in the NRL?'” Holland said.
“Playing rugby league, you always have that question there and you never want to die wondering.
“I thought I’d give it a bit of a crack and here I am.”
Now, he faces the toughest test of his burgeoning career when he and right-side partner Sam Perrett will be asked to mark up on speed demon Jennings and the two-time reigning Dally M winger of the year Radradra, who was on Tuesday named to make his Kangaroos debut next month.
Radradra left a lasting impression on the Bulldogs last month when he almost single-handedly engineered their 20-6 win, scoring a double and setting up one of the best tries of the year when he leaped over Perrett and unloaded off the ground for Jennings.
“Me and Sammy Perrett will have a job to do this week, definitely,” Holland said.
“I love every minute of it, I love coming to training and I love playing.
“It’s an opportunity that I don’t know how long it will last. I’ve just got to take those opportunities and enjoy every game.”