Nervous Brailey settles in at Knights

A phone call from coach Aiden O'Brien has helped Jayden Brailey settle in at Newcastle.
A phone call from coach Aiden O'Brien has helped Jayden Brailey settle in at Newcastle.

Newcastle hooker Jayden Brailey admits he was nervous about his arrival at the NRL club following the sacking of coach Nathan Brown last year.

Brown had lured Brailey from Cronulla on a three-year deal in July, only to controversially lose his job three weeks later.

So when an anxious Brailey moved to the Hunter ahead of pre-season training, he was relieved to receive a call from new coach Adam O'Brien.

"I was a bit nervous coming here, not signing with Adam O'Brien. So I wasn't too sure what to expect," Brailey said.

"But to his credit, the week I moved in, he gave me a buzz.

"We caught up for a coffee and he explained to me how excited he was to have me here, and how I was in his plans. So that was really reassuring for myself.

"I'm just so exited to be here to be honest. I can't wipe the smile from my face."

The 23-year-old said he was particularly keen to learn about O'Brien's relationship with the man regarded as not only the best player in his position, but of all-time.

Prior to being an assistant coach at Sydney Roosters this year, O'Brien was also Craig Bellamy's right-hand man at the Melbourne Storm.

"So whatever he says, I'm just soaking it all in," Brailey said.

"Of course training's been tough, just like every other pre-season. But he's a really good guy as well, extremely humble, and really gets all the boys together.

"I'm trying to soak everything I can, and pick his brain about Cameron Smith when he was at the Storm. That's my goal for this pre-season, learn as much as I can."

Brailey is expected to be given first crack at No.9, however the club also has other options in Danny Levi and development player Chris Randall.

And while he lists his defence is one of his strengths, he is determined to the find the balance between his individual attack and setting up his teammates.

"I feel like I'm very strong defensively. But in terms of whether I want to be a running hooker or more stable hooker, I want to be in between," he said.

"I don't want to be someone that's running all the time and taking opportunities from (Kalyn Ponga) and (Mitchell Pearce), and the rest of the team.

"Obviously if opportunities come, I'm going to take them and back myself. But I'm also going to be unselfish and put the team first. That's how I want to play."

Australian Associated Press