Penrith Emus flyhalf Dean Blore says he’s still getting used to the rules of rugby union after switching codes recently.
Still a contracted member of the Penrith Panthers, Blore is the latest rugby league player to switch to the 15-man game – joining the likes of past code-hoppers Israel Folau, Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Burgess.
The 21-year-old local junior wasn’t included in the Panthers ‘bubble’ for the NRL restart back in May, meaning he was one of several players left in limbo with no lower grade competitions.
Rather than kicking stones and piling on the kilos, Blore decided to link up with Shute Shield battlers the Penrith Emus instead.
Speaking with the Weekender, Blore said his friends encouraged him to sign on with the Emus while his league career was put on hold.
“I have some good mates that play at the Emus and they told me to come down for a run one night and here I am,” he said.
“The Panthers were really good with it. With no games this year, I don’t think they minded.”
While many would assume the transition from league to union would be fairly uncomplicated – think again.
Blore, who represented the Junior Kiwis back in 2018, said the two sports have their similarities but also major differences.
“Until now, I’ve never played rugby before so I’m still learning,” he said.
“All the positions are different and it’s a really different game compared to league, which I didn’t think it was going to be.
“Sometimes the game is slow, sometimes it’s really fast – I don’t know, I’m still trying to get my head around it.”
Fortunately for the rookie he has a coach that is very familiar with the transition from league to union.
Emus coach John Muggleton won three Premierships with the Parramatta Eels back in the 1980s before becoming a well-respected and accomplished rugby union coach later in his career.
Blore said Muggleton has been an inspiration so far this season.“Muggo is pretty cool. He’s a good fella and a good coach,” he said.
“All the boys want is a victory, but it’s been difficult so far. Having to play all the tough teams in the first five weeks has been good to see where we are at, but it’s been a huge challenge as well.”
While Blore is committed to the Emus for the remainder of the season, he hasn’t ruled out a return to rugby league one day. After representing Samoa at last year’s Rugby League World Cup Nines tournament, he is keeping his options open.
“I’m just going to see how the rest of the year plays out. It’s been a pretty weird year for everybody so I wouldn’t say I’ve closed the door on league,” Blore said.
“It’s good to see the Panthers boys winning games, I have some really good mates in that team and I want to see them win the comp.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.