League and union in the blood of Brandon brothers

LEADING THE PACK: Rugby union convert Mark Brandon is way out in front on the top try-scorers list with 22 this season. Photo: PATRICK FAHY
LEADING THE PACK: Rugby union convert Mark Brandon is way out in front on the top try-scorers list with 22 this season. Photo: PATRICK FAHY

THEY are not there on the table just yet, but there are a few areas where the Nowra-Bomaderry Jets are leading the way in 2014.

While they are in fourth on the table, the Jets have amassed more points than any other team so far with 391.

But it is on the top try-scorers list that one of their players is really showing the rest of the competition how it’s done.

Electrifying winger Mark Brandon has scored 22 tries so far, which is 10 more than Jamberoo’s Matt Coelho, who is his nearest rival.

The 21-year-old Mark and his brothers Keiran (22) and Steve (23) have been welcome additions to the Jets backline in their first season since switching codes from rugby union.

Feeling the need to try something different, it was the eldest brother Steve who suggested giving rugby league a go and it looks like it was a smart move.

Having played league in his junior days and in the koori knockouts over the years, Mark said he didn’t find it too difficult to make the transition.

“I had to get used to the rules again after so long, but the main thing has been playing a completely different position,” Mark said.

“In union I played fullback, but now I’m on the wing.

“I was used to having so much space to run, but there’s not as much room to move on the wing and I feel a bit constricted.”

He might feel constricted, but it hasn’t stopped him from scoring 22 tries.

“They just come naturally, but it has a lot to do with the players around me,” he said.

“They’re good at setting me up and putting me into holes.”

While being the leading try-scorer in Group 7 is one thing, Mark said he just loves just being in front of his brothers.

“They’re both older than me, so I like to rub it in, it’s good fun,” Mark said. 

With 10 tries of his own, Steve comes in at number four for the competition, but he will have his work cut out for him trying to catch his little brother.

“There’s always a competition between us and Mark is killing it,” Steve said.

“I’m trying to get him, but he’s a long way out in front, so I reckon he might have it,” he added.

Their success in league and union perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise, with their uncle being dual international Andrew Walker.

“He’s a great inspiration, especially being family,” Mark said.

“He’s one of the only Aboriginal men from down here to make it big and I really look up to him.

“He’s such a great player and he’s very wise in the way he teaches us stuff.”

Walker’s influence could well take Mark further in his career as he is helping him to get a trial with the North Sydney Bears.

The Bears currently serve as the reserve grade team for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and could potentially be a pathway to playing in the NRL.

Whatever may lie ahead for the future, at this stage Mark is enjoying his time playing for the Jets.

“We started slow, but throughout the season we’ve picked up and I think we can be a force to be reckoned with,” he said.

Mark said he would love to be able to win a premiership and to do it playing alongside his brothers would only add to the experience.