There are few sons of famous fathers who make it big on the NRL stage. The Sharks believe Reece Davidson, the oldest son of former Australian forward Les Davidson, could just be one of them. BRAD FORREST looks at a big kid finally emerging after years of heartbreak.
REECE Davidson is a real chip off the old block.
As an apprentice carpenter, the 19-year-old is even plying the same trade as a younger Les Davidson.
But now it is his football ability, finally, that is being measured up against a father, whose no-nonsense tackling game made him a hit for the Sharks, after making his mark with South Sydney, NSW and Australia.
Reece Davidson made his debut for the Cronulla Sharks Under 20s last round — after a miserable few years of frustration — in their win over the Broncos in Brisbane.
It might only have been 30 minutes, but it was enough. And he showed good strength to carry a couple of would-be defenders over the line for one of the Sharks tries.
Former Sharks player and now Sharks junior academy head, Allan Wilson, saw the resemblance a few years ago before a young Reece Davidson was making his mark in Matthews Cup (Under 16) representative football for the Sharks.
‘‘Reece had a good build ... and he would plant his feet in defence, just like ‘Bundy’ [Les’s nickname] and drive into his opponent with a good shoulder in a tackle,’’ Wilson said.
‘‘He has a great low tackling technique.’’ Wilson said, like Les, Reece ‘‘deserved’’ sporting success through his own work ethic.
‘‘He is professional about his training, and in the academy whenever we had an extra [training] session, Reece was always there.
‘‘Like his dad, Reece is respectful, too. He deserves some good luck now with injuries.
The young Davidson has certainly had some, missing almost the last two years of football, including the SG Ball [Under 18] division.
While other promising young Sharks were playing, Reece underwent two shoulder operations and a knee reconstruction.
‘‘The specialist said there was a problem with the [make-up], because they kept popping out,’’ said Reece last week, after winning a man of the match award for De La Salle A-grade, one of only three footy games he played leading into Under 20s selection.
Reece was a good baseballer growing up, but also had junior league in the back of his mind.
‘‘I loved getting old videos out of when Dad played,’’ he said.
So it was no surprise he joined his mates in school football, and with the De La Salle junior league club.
‘‘I started watching forwards like Sonny Bill Williams, and then Paul Gallen with the Sharks, in particular,’’ he said.
His talent was rewarded with representation in the NSW Catholic Colleges and NSW U16s divisions.
‘‘Dad helped me, sure, but he has been heaps good about my footy and doesn’t push me at all.’’
As Under 20s coach James Shepherd agrees, young ‘‘Davo’’ doesn’t need any pushing. ‘‘He’s got the attitude you want, that’s for sure,’’ said Shepherd, who will take a softly, softly approach with him in coming weeks.
Wilson says: ‘‘It is a testament to his dedication that he is playing 20s. A lot of young blokes with his injuries would have given up by now.’’
Les Davidson is a shift worker on the wharves these days and misses out on a bit of family life.
But, he says, he likes nothing better than ‘‘hanging out’’ with Reece.
‘‘We’re like best mates,’’ he said with a laugh. ‘‘But Reece really is a credit to me — the way he has overcome those injuries, the way he trains.
‘‘I couldn’t be prouder. I’ll be happier sitting on the hill watching the Sharks, now that Reece is back. He really does just need a bit of luck.’’