Seze the Day: How the current Tigers 7 is looking to make his mark before marquee man Luai arrives
If Aidan Sezer was in any doubt about what life would be like in the media maelstrom that surrounds the Tigers, it was dispelled early in pre-season when the NRL’s favourite soap opera went through some of its biggest plot twists in years.
The former Leeds Rhino had been training at Concord for less than a month when the club sacked its entire board, then announced their biggest signing in years, Jarome Luai, with the enticement that he could play at halfback, Sezer’s position.
One would forgive the 2019 Grand Finalist for being a little circumspect, but instead, he told The Roar that he was all set to attack this season and stake a claim to play alongside the new man in 2025.
“It’s a great coup for the club to get a player of Jarome’s calibre but we have a year of footy to go before he arrives,” he said.
“He’ll be doing his best for his club and we’ll be doing the best for ours.
“It’s always a good opportunity (to play in the NRL). You don’t know what’s around the corner and a year in rugby league is a long time.
“It’s good to be back home. It’s a great club, good people and I’m excited for the season.”
Sezer was not without familiar faces at the Tigers.
His old Raiders teammate and fellow 2019 Grand Finalist John Bateman made the same journey from the Super League to the Tigers a year ago and the pair are looking to bring a little of that spirit to the Tigers, where both are now senior figures in what will be a young side to start the year.
“It’s hard and it’s a long time ago – me and Jonny have tried to erase it from our memories probably – but in that team, everything we based our game on was about hard work,” he said of that Canberra outfit.
“I can see a lot of similarities with this team. We work to replicate that every day, to stand up for each other and stay in the game.”
Bateman himself told The Roar that he had seen in Sezer the qualities needed to bring the Tigers forward, not least in the halves, where he will be by far the most experienced with fellow new recruit Jayden Sullivan just 22 and Latu Fainu, recently arrived from Manly, yet to play in the top grade.
“I spoke to Seze last year when it was tossed about that he might be coming back and it’s great to have him on board,” said the England international.
“I know what he’s capable of, what he’s about and what he brings to the team. It’s what we probably needed last year.
“Seeing him in training and having a senior role with some young halves around him, he’s good for them.
“He’s a leader, first and foremost. People look up to him and he’s been there and done it. He knows what it’s about.
“His general organisation and understanding of how to get around the field, plus his kicking, is what we’ve needed.
“Experience is massive. It’s fantastic for the young kids to be learning off someone like Seze.”
Much as Sezer is leading the way for the two young playmakers, he himself has been learning off a legendary half in Benji Marshall.
The new Tigers coach was right in the thick of it at training, playing halfback in drills to show his side around the field.
Sezer joked about his ability to still play in the NRL at the age of 38, but said that it was a dream come true to be able to watch on as Benji did his stuff.
“You can see he’s still pretty sharp on the field,” he said.
“It’s a good experience and I’m loving it so far. It’s great to get inside and see how he operates.
“I’ve played against him as a young kid and he always impressed me by the way he played and how he carries himself.
“To know him on a personal level now is even more enjoyable and he’s still sharp – he’s 39 or 40 and could still lace up the boots.
“He’s one of the greats and one of the best modern day halves, so to work with him day in and day out is definitely a privilege. He’s still got an aura about him so everything he says you listen and respect.”