Three years ago Jake Stein was putting on his football boots to play soccer. Now the former left back is preparing to line up for the Queanbeyan Blues as they attempt to win their third premiership in four years.
Despite having grown up playing the round ball game, Stein’s transition to playing rugby league was expected due to his passion for the game.
“When I was 19 I gave up on soccer, it just wasn’t my thing,” Stein said. “Then I thought I’d give footy a crack and I’ve loved it ever since.”
During his first two seasons at the Blues, Stein played on the wing and found himself motivated by matching the feats of his dad who also played in the backline.
“My old man used to play rugby league when I was a kid. Once I put on a bit of weight, I wanted to do a bit better than him to show him up,” Stein laughed.
Shortly after making his first grade debut, Stein was in for a shock when he was told he was moving off the wing to prop. Not that it fazed him.
“Well, I’ve always liked contact,” Stein said. “So it was just more contact so I enjoyed it.”
Overseeing Stein’s rise to first grade has been Queanbeyan Blues assistant coach, Adam Lenihan.
“The first time he played in the middle was against the Kangaroos at Freebody Oval,” Lenihan said. “He went absolutely flat out for about eight minutes and then he was absolutely gone.
“It wasn’t through lack of trying or lack of application, it was just getting used to playing in the middle through first grade.”
After that performance, Stein continued his education as a prop through reserve grade before getting a recall just before the finals series.
In his return, Stein has managed to increase his input for the Blues having managed to earn a starting berth and while doubling his minutes.
“His mobility is one of the reasons he’s there,” Lenihan said. “If you take a look at our boys like Day, Rutland, McInnes and Ngata, they’re big, big boys.
“They’re not as agile as Kyle [O’Donnell] and Jake are. They give us a point of difference and that’s one of the good things about Jake, he’s a little bit more mobile…his line speed and retreat speed is better than those real big boys.”
Having made his first appearance as a prop against the Kangaroos, Stein will be looking to continue his progression against the same team this weekend.
Whatever the result in this weekend’s grand final, Stein has certainly found his calling.
“I just love my footy,” Stein said. “I couldn’t go back to soccer now.”