100 tries looms for Souths stalwart

Every time you see him talk to the media, or talk to him in person, he is shy, calm and reserved, in more ways than one, and many would think that that is the only version of Nathan Merritt that you will see.

“Yeah, that’s me,” Merritt said.

“I guess I am a bit shy and stick to myself.

“I guess I have never felt the need to make big statements or talk a lot.”

Sitting on the verge of scoring 100 first-grade tries, Merritt knows that it is time for him to step up, and become a leader of the Bunnies team, and to be the man that his team-mates follow on the field.

“In the past I guess I kept to myself and just played football,” Merritt said.

“But now I try and get in there and talk to everyone.

“I get in there and help them out with some talk and rev them up.

“I am a senior player now and I feel it is my responsibility to get out there and lead them a bit. I am probably the most experienced back at the club and it is my time to step up.

“I need to take charge and take care of business.”

Given his shy nature however, he admits that becoming one of the teams big talkers has been difficult, but he is enjoying every second of it.

“It has just been something I have developed through my career,” Merritt said.

“I guess with each game you get more confident with it.

“I have been able to get a bit more of me into the open and talk more. I have found that as I have matured I have become more of a leader.”

With a near full-strength Tigers side raring to go, the reality for the Bunnies is the stark opposite, with their forward pack decimated by injuries.

“We have lost a lot of players,” Merritt said.

“We are really struggling in the forwards. It has been a bit tough but now it is up to people like me, Mick Crocker and John Sutton to step up to the plate and take charge. That is what we will have to do.”

Many will remember 2 years ago, the heroics from Merritt to get his Bunnies side over the line, when he kicked the winning field goal, and now, 2 years on, Merritt is hoping that his side can get the win over the Tigers.

“On the field it will be 13 on 13,” Merritt said. “And we are every chance of winning.

“We still have a great team and blokes that can do the job so we will be thinking we can win. We all have to bring a good attitude into the game, there is no doubt about that, and if we do that we will be every chance.

“The Tigers are a good side and we need to have a good attitude. We will have to defend well for the 80 minutes.

“They are brilliant out of dummy half so you have to slow that up and you also have to hold your defensive line or Benji will carve us up.”

As his 28th birthday approaches, and with his future at the club secure after re-signing for 3 seasons, Merritt is seen as a god by the Aboriginal community, especially by the kids, and he still lives in Redfern, the area he also grew up in.

With 99 tries to his name, Merritt is hoping that the magic 100th can come against the Tigers tonight.

“That would be nice,” Merritt said.

“It would be a pretty big honour and something to be proud of.

“I love scoring tries – it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”

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