“He said, ‘Look, I know you’ve got a full-time job but I’d love to keep you around and we think you’ve got something special and can contribute to the club’. It would have been silly not to take that opportunity.”
At the time, Deitz signed a training contract and was ineligible to play first grade before round 10 as per the NRL’s rules with development players and training contract players.
But a foot injury to Canterbury hooker Jeremy Marshall King saw the Bulldogs apply to the NRL for an exemption to bring Deitz on to the bench given Sione Katoa was the only other specialist hooker at the club.
The NRL granted the Bulldogs the exemption, with Barrett relaying the news to Deitz, who scored a try in the club’s trial, on Monday.
“After field session, I was doing extra kicking on the field and Baz said, ‘Make sure you come see me in the office a bit later today’. I asked him what time. He said, ‘Nah, don’t worry, I’ll just tell you now’. He just ripped the band-aid off and gave me the good news. I said, ‘Are you for real, you’re actually going to pick me?’
“I’m not going to lie, over the last couple years it definitely crossed my mind that I wasn’t going to get the call-up to play NRL but I never lost the love of playing footy.
“I’ve been around at a few clubs and have never had the crack to get the chance and show what I can do on the big stage. I’ve had a fair few decent players in front of me like Jake Friend, Damien Cook and Robbie Farah.”
His manager, Michael Cincotta, insists Deitz won’t be overawed by the occasion.
“His hard work, perseverance and relentless drive to make this happen is the reason why it has happened,” he said. “Even at the age of 26, we never had the doubt. We just had to find the right system. That’s at the Bulldogs. He’s comfortable in his own skin and played against all those guys. The step up is smaller for him than an 18-year-old kid.”
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Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald