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Littlejohn makes the NRL big time

Reserve grade rugby for Randwick one year, filling the boots of NRL superstar Daly Cherry-Evans the next.
Littlejohn makes the NRL big time
by AAP

By Darren Walton

SYDNEY, May 6 AAP - Reserve grade rugby for Randwick one year, filling the boots of NRL superstar Daly Cherry-Evans the next.

That's Jack Littlejohn, the 22-year-old set to line up in the famous Manly No.7 jumper against fierce rivals Melbourne at AAMI Park on Saturday.

With the Sea Eagles suffering a halves crisis and coach Geoff Toovey unlikely to risk Cherry-Evans unless he's 100 per cent recovered from a calf injury, Littlejohn is set to go head to head with Test ace Cooper Cronk.

"It'll definitely be a big pressure game for me, but I'll just keep it simple," Littlejohn said on Tuesday.

"I'll do the simple things right like my kicking game and get my defence right and hopefully all the attack comes right after that."

It worked last outing when Littlejohn, deputising for another international star in Kiwi five-eighth Kieran Foran, settled the butterflies with a 40-20 with his first kick of the ball on debut in Manly's 54-18 thrashing of Canberra.

"It was a lot faster than any sort of game I've ever played before," Littlejohn said.

"But with the performance the boys put in, it definitely made it a lot easier for me."

Against the Raiders, though, Littlejohn had Cherry-Evans to work in tandem with.

Against the Storm, he's almost certain to stand in for Cherry-Evans with back-rower Jamie Buhrer to be used as a stop-gap five-eighth.

His teammates have no doubt Littlejohn can do the job.

"We're pretty confident in the depth we've got," said forward Justin Horo.

"We've had a fair few injuries already and guys like Jack Littlejohn have stepped in before.

"When guys get the opportunity with this club, they tend to take it with both hands."

Horo and Eagles hardman Steve Matai hailed Littlejohn's toughness.

"He's sort of similar to Kieran. He runs the ball hard, tackles hard and he's a good ball player and that's what we need," Matai said.

"He's got a good kicking game and I thought he really stood up against Canberra and I'm sure he'll do a good job on the weekend."

After being ditched by the Sydney Roosters in 2012, Littlejohn wound up at Randwick playing for the Galloping Greens last year before being handed an NRL lifeline at Canterbury by former Manly coach Des Hasler.

Then Toovey nabbed him from underneath Hasler's nose to sign the youngster to a two-year deal with the Eagles.

"I've definitely got to pinch myself every now and then to think that I've now played an NRL game," Littlejohn said.

"That was my dream since I've been a little fella ... I was always going to pursue my dream and finally I got there."




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