No Payne barrier in Bulldogs pack
COREY Payne feared his chance to play for the NRL club he worshiped as a kid was gone this time last year.
The Canterbury forward, who had arguably his best first grade game in yesterday’s 24-20 win over the Sydney Roosters, underwent a shoulder reconstruction after he was injured in the Dogs’ first trial of 2010.
It cost the 27-year-old all of last season, apart from one game in the final round and the NSW Cup grand final.
On a one-year deal at the time, Payne feared the worst.
“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind,” he said.
“That’s all I ever wanted to do as a kid, grew up supporting the Bulldogs, going out to Belmore, Chester Hill junior, looked up to Terry Lamb, Jimmy Dymock was one of my favourite players as a kid.
“I get back to the club and for that to happen is pretty heartbreaking.”
Three years at St George Illawarra was followed by two at the Wests Tigers before Payne made it home.
The previously unfashionable forward yesterday laid on a try for Ben Barba with his first touch, was on hand to throw the final ball for the fullback’s second and sent backrower Jake Foster on a 40m break with a clever dummy and offload.
“The last game he came back and we won the game, he showed a few touches in that game of what he can deliver,” coach Kevin Moore said.
“He’s certainly the sort of bloke that I like having come off the bench, he’s very creative, a bit of an old-style footballer and likes to ball play.
“He was really good for us today.”
Payne is now focused on extending his current one-year deal.
“I haven’t had a start like this for first grade pretty much since I debuted (in 2005),” he said.
“I had a pretty complete off-season, worked hard in the gym, worked hard on my strength and it’s paying off.”
Meanwhile, Sydney Roosters coach Brian Smith admits he gambled and lost with a game of interchange roulette that left his side with 12 men for the crucial final minutes of his team’s loss.
The Roosters played out the final 10 minutes of the see-sawing match a man down after winger Sam Perrett continued a horror weekend of injuries by suffering a suspected broken ankle in the 70th minute at ANZ Stadium.
With forward Mose Masoe having run on for Jason Ryles seconds earlier, it meant the Roosters could make no more replacements as they feverishly chased down the four-point deficit.