Linnett's gain reaps rewards
He's a mild-mannered, meat-and-potatoes type who just gets his job done without a fuss, but Kane Linnett has actually been playing with a chip on his shoulder for probably as long as you've heard of him.
Tough carries and strong defence underscore what Linnett brings to the table, and while he has fewer tries to his name this season (five) than the men either side of him (Antonio Winterstein with 11 and Gavin Cooper seven), the veteran from Shellharbour forms a critical piece of the premiers' strong left edge.
Physicality and under-the-radar plays form the basis of Linnett's game, with each moment of dominant contact serving to remind him of a time – long ago now – where he was 'too small'.
In his under-20s days Linnett tipped the scales at 86 kilograms despite carrying a 194-centimetre frame, and was thought by some as "too skinny" to cut it in top grade.
So he did what he had to in order to make it.
"In under-20s I was about 86 kilos and I got called 'the javelin' because I was tall and skinny," he told NRL.com.
"When I first played first grade for the Roosters I was about 93 kilos and I'm now about 106, so I've put on a bit of weight but the nickname has sort of stayed there.
"[The nicknames] always play in the back of your mind.
"I guess you could say they are a chip on my shoulder.
"I did cop a fair bit going through the grades; people thinking 'he's too skinny, he won't be able to make it into first grade.'
"I was always a tall, rangy-type kid so just I worked pretty hard on my strength in the gym and the body just filled out."
While he has lost a touch of pace since the days of stretching out along the sideline for the Roosters, the veteran centre expertly fills a defensive need on the Cowboys' left fringe – a key attribute keeping youngster Javid Bowen out of the 17-man team – and combines with Antonio Winterstein to form one of the most physical edge pairings in the Telstra Premiership.
Their tough carries and staunch defence will become even more important at the pointy end of the season, considering most of the better teams are most comfortable attacking on the right.
"The Cowboys have given me an opportunity up here and I just try and do what I can to help the boys get out of our own end," Linnett said of his niche in the team.
"Defence on the edge is important too. In previous years, teams that have won the comp have had pretty good defensive records, so obviously that's an area I want to keep improving on."
Having inked another two years with the club in May, the throwback three-quarter hopes North Queensland is where his NRL journey eventually ends.
"I couldn't see myself at any other NRL club. I guess I've been here quite a while now, I love it up in North Queensland and I'm very happy with the Cowboys," he said.
"The coaching staff I've had along the way have been really top class and have helped me in my game."
First published on NRL.com.