Perrett shows he can make the grade

Being up against his first ever grade coach this weekend has allowed veteran Bulldog Sam Perrett the chance to reflect on how his career came to be. 

You see, skateboarding – and not a football – was Perrett's idea of fun growing up. 

In fact, bar two years of rugby league as a 10-year-old, Perrett was a complete stranger to the game that has almost now produced 250 NRL games for him.

"I skateboarded up until my last few years of high school. I used to always cruise around on my skateboard. That's what I loved to do," Perrett laughed.

"I started hurting myself too much though so I decided to go to rugby league."

Perrett laced on the boots for the first time in Year 11 at Gold Coast's Palm Beach Currumbin State High.

12 months later he was an Australian Schoolboy and soon after was bound for the Sydney Roosters.

"It was a big deal coming to Sydney at such a young age. I'd only ever been around my family up until then," Perrett said. 

"It was the first time by myself but thank goodness I had (now Cowboys front-rower) Benny Hannant with me. He was a good friend from the Gold Coast at school, at club level and we both had the same faith so that made things easy for me."

This is where Shane Flanagan comes into the picture. 

Flanagan was the Roosters' Jersey Flegg coach back in 2004 where a young 19-year-old Perrett was joined by the likes of Jamie Soward, Mickey Paea and Heath L'Estrange in their undefeated premiership-winning season.

12 years on, and with Flanagan's Sharks sitting atop the NRL Telstra Premiership, Perrett isn't surprised his old mentor is the architect behind their success. 

"Flanno definitely has a special ability about him in bringing the best out of people. The Sharks have talent all over the park and I really think Flanno's played a big part in getting some of the best out of those boys," Perrett said.

"You're starting to see the best of Benny Barba coming back out. There's a reason why they're sitting on top of the table."

Flanagan was equally complimentary of Perrett ahead of Monday night's clash at ANZ Stadium and said he wasn't surprised by the 21-time New Zealand international's longevity. 

Perrett will shift back to the wing to face the Sharks after spending the past month at fullback in the absence of Will Hopoate.

"Sam was always a real competitor and a real professional and always looked after himself really well off the field. He's had a great career and he's still playing really well at the moment," Flanagan said. 

"He's so dangerous and powerful out of dummy half. He's done a great job for them at fullback. But I'm sure with Hopoate coming back into the team, Sammy will be back on that wing and handle the ball more often out of dummy half meaning he's a real threat.

"He's one of those players that just seems to come up with those freakish plays when a side needs it. He's someone we're going to have to watch."

This article first appeared on NRL.com