When the final few minutes in the sheds before kick-off come around and final wishes of good luck are exchanged, Blayke Brailey always leaves brother Jayden until last.
The pair share a close bond. They also share the same goal of being a starting NRL hooker and for the first time they may both realise that dream after Jayden signed a three-year deal with the Newcastle Knights from 2020.
The brothers may be parting ways in their NRL club careers but the plan for the time being is to still live together in their parents’ Caringbah home. However, enemy lines may have to be drawn within its walls by their father Glenn, who is the Academy and Talent Identification Manager at Sharks.
“My dad will probably separate us,” Blayke joked to nswrl.com.au
While disappointed to see his brother leave, Blayke takes comfort from the fact the pair still managed to live out their life-long dream of playing alongside each other in the NRL.
“It was unreal,” Blayke said of his debut alongside Jayden in Cronulla’s opening game against Newcastle this year.
“He really guided me through the week, calmed my nerves so that when I got out there I just knew what to do.”
Their days playing together in the top grade may be numbered but the pair have plenty of other memories to draw upon, forged during their time at Aquinas College and in the Sharks junior representative program.
“We grew up training together and played a few games together in school footy, SG ball and the 20s so yeah he’s had a big influence coming through the grades,” Blayke said.
“It’s (Jayden’s departure) pretty sad, it sort of really sunk in the last week.
“We’ve grown up in the same house and still live together so the thought of not going to training with him in the off-season is going to be a weird experience.”
Blayke is still excited to see his brother lock down his long-term future, revealing Jayden faced a few hurdles on his road to playing first grade.
“He’s had a lot of setbacks – a few of the rep teams he didn’t make – so he’s been through a lot of adversity,” Blayke said.
“To see him come through and get a three year-deal with Newcastle, I’m really looking forward to it and hope he does well.”
Blayke appears to have the position as starting hooker for the Sharks NRL side in 2020 wrapped up following his brother’s departure but admitted it wasn’t a time for complacency.
“It’s still a long way to go, we’ve still got a whole pre-season,” he said.
“(I’m) just looking forward to getting into the pre-season and putting my best foot forward.”
Jayden isn’t the only Aquinas Colts junior who will be leaving the club at the end of the year.
Blayke also played in the Colts alongside rising halfback Kyle Flanagan, who has signed a two-year deal with the Roosters. In fact, the pair won 10 consecutive premierships together in their junior team from under-8s to under-17s.
It presents a new challenge for the 20-year old, with those long-held combinations no longer useful.
“Me and Flanno (Kyle Flanagan) were coming through the grades together so I sort of knew what he did,” Blayke revealed.
“So now I’ve just got build the relationship with Chad (Townsend) and Shaun (Johnson).”
While Blayke and Jayden had prepared for the day that one of them may have to leave, it doesn’t make the reality of it happening any easier.
All that is left now is for the draw to be released for the 2020 season, with family loyalties to be tested when they face off for the first time in different colours. They will be on opposition teams then but wishes of good luck will still be exchanged.
“I wouldn’t be in the position now without him,” Blayke said.