Adrian Trevilyan is poised for his NRL debut

Raiders bench hooker Adrian Trevilyan will make his NRL debut against the Cowboys on Saturday as the new heir in a glorious lineage of schoolboy stars to crack the big time.

With COVID wrecking havoc with the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Trevilyan is the most recent winner of the Peter Sterling Medal for the best schoolboy player in the country after steering Kirwan State High School to victory in the NRL Schoolboys Cup back in 2019.

He joined some esteemed company. Some of the winners over the last two decades include David Fifita, Payne Haas, Adam Reynolds, Ben Te’o and Ryan James.

Trevilyan is a cunning rake with a strong defensive game and a golden eye for an attacking opportunity, especially close to the line, but a quick look at previous winners of the medal proves that natural talent isn’t enough for even the best young player to make the grade.

For every Fifita and Haas, for every Ben Elias and Greg Alexander, there’s a Gerard McCallum or a Michael Carl, a Kris Flint or a Matthew Mundine, players for whom, for whatever reason, things just didn’t work out when they tried to make the NRL.

But according to Todd Wilson, who coached Trevilyan at Kirwan, the Raiders playmaker was always going to make the most of his considerable talents.

“First and foremost he was just super dedicated. His work ethic was outstanding and he listened, he took things on board. His attitude for improvement, to take on information, was fantastic for starters, but he has a natural footballing instinct,” Wilson said.

“He knows when to run it and when to look for it, he’s got great service and he’s skilful. He’s a strong defender and he defends so well through the middle.

“I love his footballing nous, how creative he is out of nine. He knows how to take a few metres and he knows how to find the tryline when you really need it. He has really good vision and he sets your attacking play up really well with his decision making.

“Since I’ve known him he’s had that, and that’s how he continues to improve. He’s resilient and tough, he gets knocked around a little bit in the middle but he just keeps going. He’ll never let you down and he’ll give you everything.

“I knew how valuable he was to our team at that time and I knew if someone else saw that value and nurtured it, he would make it. It’s just fantastic he’s had the chance to demonstrate that and now he gets that chance to play first grade.”

That work ethic has clearly caught Canberra coach Ricky Stuart’s eye.

While Trevilyan has impressed in the brief lower grade chances he’s been afforded over the past two years, and did well in the club’s trial victory over the Roosters last month, it was the quality of his efforts at training that earned him the chance at an NRL start.

It’s a trait he shares with a fellow Kirwan alumni and current Raider, Brad Schneider, who would have been playing alongside Trevilyan against the Cowboys if not for the NRL’s biosecurity protocols.

“Trevvy’s been great over the past couple of years at training and that’s why we’re picking these young players. They’re getting picked on the back of their sacrifices and commitment to training,” Stuart said.

“For those two boys – Brad Schneider was a great example last week, we were correct in that, and we’re correct with Adrian too. He’s just a young boy starting his NRL career.”

Kirwan has long been a hotbed of NRL talent: Jason Taumalolo, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Brandon Smith all came through the Townsville nursery, as did current Cowboys standout Jeremiah Nanai.

Nanai was on the victorious 2019 side but for Wilson, Trevilyan took more after Schneider, who captained Kirwan in their 16-10 win over New South Wales juggernaut Westfields Sports High.

“Jeremiah Nanai, a kid like that, he was almost destined to play a lot of first grade but there’s a lot of kids with that talent that don’t. What set Adrian apart was his dedication.

“It makes me so proud to see both those boys play first grade because they were just good young kids who really listened, took everything on board and did everything they could to be the best they could be.

“They’re really good young blokes, you never had to pull them into line, and it’s so pleasing to see good young people like that have success.”