George Jennings may be a name on the tip of the tongues of Melbourne Storm fans for years to come.
He’s not young enough – he will turn 28 years of age in early June – to build and maintain the Victorian NRL club’s fortunes and traditions around beyond the next few years, but can provide the memories that Storm supporters will reminisce about long into the future.
The New South Wales-born Jennings brings a fantastic skill set to the party, based on speed and power on the flank opposite Josh Addo-Carr, for a club which values lethal qualities that Jennings brings.
In fact, combined with Cameron Munster’s playmaking, Ryan Papenhuyzen’s swift inside running and the toughness the likes of Jahrome Hughes, the Bromwich brothers and Christian Welch provide, the speed and power of their wingers adds the fitting finishing touches to coach Craig Bellamy’s game plans week in and week out.
And for Jennings, as well as with Addo-Carr, it’s a case of the faster and more powerful, the better.
The two tries he scored for the Storm in Round 4 against the Brisbane Broncos were evidence of his potential at the top-flight rugby league level, once he finds his way into a team’s starting 13.
And his current form for the Storm serves as a vindication of his own abilities, in a career marred to this point by catastrophic injuries and having jumped from club to club.
Jennings’ 2015 debut NRL season was cut short five games in with a broken leg while with Penrith, followed by shoulder injuries the following year while playing for Parramatta.
Those shoulder problems delayed an eventual place with the Eels until 2018 as he toiled away at the Intrust Super Premiership to try and find his form again.
In fact, Melbourne is his third NRL club in just over the last 12 months, having signed in the offseason from Parramatta, following a short loan stint with the New Zealand Warriors in the latter stages of 2020.
The Storm’s signing of a player with Jennings’ qualities was necessitated by Suliasi Vinuvalu’s opting to return to rugby union with the Queensland Reds of the Super Rugby competition.
And now having been given that chance to play and feel valued, Jennings, one of three brothers having played in the NRL, now feels comfortable in the Storm’s purple jerseys, and envisions he will be in their set-up for quite a while to come.
Jennings credits the camaraderie within the Storm’s culture and set-up for helping him settle in and focus on realising his high standards.
“It’s always tough to get into a new side, but I’ve found it to be really good with the boys here helping me out a lot,” he said after his two-try output against the Brisbane Broncos on Good Friday at AAMI Park.
“That makes my job really easy. And when everyone does their job, my job becomes a lot easier.
“Everyone’s been really welcoming,” he added.
Papenhuyzen may have received all the plaudits with four first-half tries in the Storm’s 40-6 win over Brisbane, but Jennings – in a match where Addo-Carr and Welch played in their 100th games representing the Storm – getting more than one score on his side of the paddock when Addo-Carr got none provides a bit of pride in his heart.
As well as a friendly rivalry with his teammate on the other wing.
“It’s nice to get tries on our side for a change… Every time I see the ball go to that side of the field, I know that Foxx [Addo-Carr] can make a try out of nothing,” said Jennings on his first two scores for the club, as he hopes for more when the Storm travel to Sydney to play Canterbury on Saturday evening.
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