BAD BOY Leeds Rhinos prop Ryan Bailey would have been a fans’ favourite – and a huge success – in Australia’s NRL.
That’s the view of Bailey’s team-mate and former Gold Coast Titans star Brett Delaney ahead of the long-serving forward’s testimonial game against London Broncos at Headingley Carnegie on Friday night.
Bailey last year rejected offers from the NRL in order to re-sign with Leeds and Delaney reckons the 30-year-old made the right decision, despite being suited to the Aussie game.
“Talent-wise I have no doubt he could have been a success in the NRL,” said Delaney, who played 81 times in Australia’s elite competition, for Parramatta Eels and Gold Coast.
“He and JP [Jamie Peacock] are the only front-rowers I can think of who can play 80 minutes. He is naturally gifted with fitness and aggression, every side needs that and the Australian public would have loved him over there.
“The hard thing was thinking about leaving his kids, but the fans would have taken to him straight away. It would have been good for him, but things move on.
“The NRL isn’t always the answer. Leeds is a family and the club care about you as a person. Because of the competition and the prizes on offer over there it is cut throat and that can be harsh on the players.”
Bailey and Delaney have become great friends since the Australian moved to Leeds in 2010 and have become known as the Bash Brothers.
The duo now share a house and Delaney revealed Bailey off the field is nothing like his image on it.
He said: “Everyone thinks he is some big thug, but that is on the pitch – it’s not reality. He is always laughing and smiling off the field.
“You just need to earn his trust,but once you have that you can see the great qualities he has and probably not many people have seen that down the years.
“He obviously has a lot of love for his mum, who brought him up and he adores her along with the rest of his family.
“When it comes down to it he is a loyal bloke and loyalty is not something that happens overnight.
“You are brought up with it and that is why we are similar.
“When you grow up you learn to appreciate a lot of things and loyalty is top of that list. Ryan is very loyal once he trusts you.
“People think he is arrogant, but the opposite is true – he is quite shy and likes to keep himself to himself.”
Bailey was an obvious choice of lodger when Delaney decided to buy a house in Leeds.
“Living together is good for both of us,” said the Aussie second-rower.
“It has been a great two years. When you click with someone who is similar to you, that makes life easier.
“Around the house he is funny, we bounce off each other.
“When he wants to, he can cook, he can turn his hand to anything, but I didn’t know that for the first six months.
“People probably think the club is crazy letting us live together, but actually it brings a balance to both of us.”
Bradford Bulls coach Francis Cummins has also paid tribute to Bailey, who is a former Leeds team-mate.
He said: “There have been occasions when he may have made a poor decision, but he has more than repaid his team-mates and his club for any misdemeanours.
“I know his coaches and his team-mates hold him in the highest regard.”