Nat Butcher arrived two days late to NSW Under-20s Origin camp in 2017 and gave the stacked playing squad a massive boost on arrival.
Not able to join his teammates in Kiama for the start of camp due to Roosters commitments, Butcher met the rest of the team at the airport to fly up to Suncorp Stadium. According to coach Danny Buderus, there was a certain awe surrounding Butcher given what he’d achieved in junior Rugby League.
“We picked him up on the Sunday when we were heading up to Brisbane and instantly, he had that reputation amongst the group ‘oh we’re picking Nat up, Nat’s in the team’ and it gave the other members of the squad a real boost,” Buderus said.
“That’s the effect he had in and amongst that age group at the time; because of his leadership qualities and his actions that back those up, they always felt more comfortable knowing that Nat was coming into the team.
Such impact he has on a playing group stacked with then-future stars including Cameron Murray, Victor Radley, Curtis Scott, Reuben Garrick, Jesse Ramien and plenty more came from his incredible record as he rapidly rose through the ranks.
He was picked for the Australian Schoolboys when attending Marcellin College Randwick in 2014, before playing an integral role for the Sydney Roosters NYC team in 2015 and 2016. They won the premiership in the latter year, where Butcher was named best on ground in the decider.
Now, he’s developed into a regular first grader. He missed out on a Grand Final appearance last year; the fact he played just about every game this year and was able to crack a regular spot in that premiership-winning line-up is a fine achievement.
Nat Butcher now has a premiership ring. He played 39 minutes and made a mind-blowing 37 tackles in that time.
“The difference and progression of Nat has been the two big pre seasons since I had him in U20s camp,” Buderus said.
“He’s always been physically strong, and now he’s turned all of that strength into power and speed.
“You can just see the way he gets across the ground now; his leg speed has really picked up and he’s a really smart player in and around the ball.
Butcher will represent the Junior Kangaroos team to play France at WIN Stadium in Wollongong after the age cut-off got raised to under-23.
It’s an amazing team that has three players who have played State of Origin, but only four players in that team have a premiership to their name with Butcher being one of those.
The others are Curtis Scott, Angus Crichton and of course Victor Radley, who remarkably has two to his name after being part of both Roosters teams that went back-to-back.
Buderus credits the NSWRL Pathways for playing a role in the development of these players who have achieved so much at a young age.
“It’s great to have those players to come through the Pathways and move to the next stage, I think it’s huge in their development,” Buderus said.
“Some of these guys have won back-to-back titles like Victor Radley, some players play 300 games and never win one and these guys so early in their career have won two.
“To see those guys have that success is just amazing to think where they are in their standing in the game already.
“The challenge for them now is to keep their development going, getting better and nothing is stopping them because they’ve got great attitudes, everyone that plays in that elite crew have all got really good attitudes and they work really hard.
“It’s just so good to see them get early success.”