Denzel dazzles in silver screen call-up
DENZEL Burns only learned hours before kick-off that he would be suiting up for his first-ever televised match when the Jets hosted the Blackhawks at North Ipswich Reserve last weekend.
The speedy winger from Townsville was a late inclusion in place of an injured Rory Humphreys, and he handled his first time in the silver screen spotlight with aplomb.
"First telly game. The nerves weren't kicking in, I was more just keen and worrying about what I needed to do for the team,” Burns said.
"I was told on Thursday night like everyone else to be prepared to play. I just went through the ordinary preparation for the game and if I was told I was playing I was ready for it.”
Although the Jets had a dog day on the scoreboard, Burns was a bright spark with two tackle breaks and 114 run metres playing opposite incumbent winger Marmin Barba.
Ben Shea was the first player to greet Burns in the dressing rooms after he was told he would be getting the start.
"I didn't know he was playing on the weekend until he came into the rooms and it was just me and him there,” Shea said.
"I said (in pre-season) a lot of guys who deserved to be in the team that first round would miss out because of our depth. I told him he deserved that spot because he'd been outstanding in our trials, and for him to get that was just rewards.
"He's just got that natural ability and speed you can't really coach.”
Having managed only three senior games last season due to work commitments, Burns showed against the Blackhawks why Jets co-coaches Ben and Shane Walker hold such a high opinion of him.
When early team lists were released on Tuesday night, Burns was named to start on the wing against Burleigh today.
The Jets are suddenly loaded at the outside back position, with Peter Gubb also joining the club in the off-season via Wynnum-Manly.
Still working his way back from a heavy concussion he received in a trial against Sunshine Coast last month, Gubb is named as a reserve alongside Julian Christian and Rowan Winterfield.
Burns travels from Toowoomba through the week for training sessions and again on game day.
The apprentice electrician does not mind the travel, owing to the positive culture at the Jets.
"Sometimes I carpool with a couple other boys from the Jets who live in Toowoomba, it's not too bad,” Burns said.
"When I first came to the Jets I liked the way they played, and how the trainings were. It was pretty easy to adapt to.
"Last year Wes Conlon taught me a fair bit, and Michael Purcell. But really everyone has been helpful.
"Ben and Shane are very encouraging to all the players, and it's a good team environment to be in.
"They make training worthwhile - they make you want to be there.”