Victor Radley – The InflictorBorn and raised local league star Victor Radley made his first grade debut with the Roosters in late 2017 and has been exciting fans ever since. The Beast caught up with the charismatic utility during the month…
You’re a born and bred Bronte boy; what are your fondest memories of growing up in this beautiful part of the world? I was down at the beach every weekend in summer – nippers in summer and footy in winter. I remember that every Australia Day my family, the Cliffords and the Scotts would go camp down at Bronte Beach on the hill there on the Saturday night. All the parents were on the beers; we were young, just causing havoc, good times. That was the crew. All the parents used to get together down the beach and get on the beers, have a barbecue, that sort of thing.
Your old man is English and your mum is Australian? Yeah, that’s right.
How did your dad end up over here? I don’t know the details of it, but I don’t think he came over here planning to stay permanently. He came over here with mates to get on the piss like most English do, and then he ended up working as a builder, or a carpenter at the time, and then he met my mum at Tamarama, from memory. Mum was a childcare worker and I think she was nannying for a family in Tama, and my old man ended up working on either the neighbouring property or the same property I think. I’m pretty sure that’s how they met.
How romantic! Yes, I know.
I’ve heard your dad is the hardest worker in the world… I think that’s all he does. He just loves working, and then the Clovelly Hotel – the two things he loves.
Is it just you and your two brothers? I’ve got three brothers.
There are three of you? There are four of us all together. Me, Harry and Jack are always down at Bronte. I think Lewis, my other brother, ended up playing footy for South Eastern as he got a bit older, because his Clovelly team ended up folding, so our different groups of mates ended up being in different areas.
Is it true that one of your brothers lived in a tree house in Bronte Gully for a while? Yeah, Jack. I think he lived in a little shack down there. That’s his scene; he’d look good down there.
Can you talk us through your junior footy days and give us a bit of a timeline of your junior football career? I started playing for the Clovelly Crocodiles when I was four. Jack and Lewis were already playing, so my mum got me down there playing with them as early as I could. My last year at the Crocs was under 17s, so do the maths – is that 14 years?
What year were you born? I was born in 1998.
Fifteen years after Michael Jackson released Thriller… Yeah, wow. So I just went through the ranks at the Roosters with the Harold Matthews Cup when I was 15, the S. G. Ball Cup when I was 16 and 17, and then I ended up playing under 20s that year too, which was in 2016 when we won the competition, and then first grade this year. I debuted last year and I’m full-time first grade this year.
Which game did you start last year? It was when Jake Friend broke his hand. I think it was round 19 or 20, so my first game was about this time last year. Luckily I won my first game.
And you played for Australia in the juniors, didn’t you? I made the under 20s Kangaroos team, which was pretty cool, and the New South Wales under 20s team as well. We played before the first Origin game last year.
As hooker? For New South Wales I played lock, and I was on the bench for the Australian team, so I just played as a utility. I think I ended up playing centre because our starting centre broke his jaw in the first game.
Having grown up in Bronte, you would’ve seen the local area change a lot throughout your childhood; do you think life in Sydney is better now than it was when you were growing up? I’m probably not down there at the beach as much as I would’ve been three or four years ago, just because training’s that hectic. There’s no alcohol or any of that type of stuff allowed down there now, which probably makes it a bit worse. That said, I think it’s always good down there. I still wake up every morning and, whether I’m at the beach or at a cafe, it’s just such an amazing spot. I definitely can’t complain.
Have you noticed it getting a bit busier and the demographic changing? Yeah, I’m in Coogee at the moment, just on Coogee Beach, and I’ve been there for around four months. It is pretty busy, hey. I can’t really remember much from when I was little. As a young kid, I don’t think I noticed that type of stuff. It’s definitely expensive. Trying to get somewhere to live around here, it’s going to be tough.
You’ve just got to poison your parents’ tea… Yeah, that’s it.
You’ve been absolutely mowing for the Chooks this year; did you feel like you belonged in first grade from early on, or did it take you a while to settle in and get comfortable? After playing a few games last year I just wanted to play first grade this year. I would have always been secretly spewing if I wasn’t playing this year. I wanted to work hard; once you get that little taste of first grade you don’t want to play anything else. At the start of the year I wasn’t playing very many minutes, then in one of the games early on I think Nugg (Jake Friend) might’ve got hurt and I ended up playing a bit longer, about 40 or 50 minutes, and I really thought to myself, “This is sweet, I can belong here. I’m not just going to fit in; I can be myself and play well.“
Did you ever feel out of your depth? No, not really. It’s hard to explain what it’s like. It’s almost easier. Well, not easier, that’s the wrong word to use, but because the players around you are so good, if you do make a mistake everyone else covers for you and helps you out. With all the good players around you it makes it a little bit easier, but it is still bloody hard.
You recently signed a five-year contract extension, which will have you stay at the Roosters until 2023; how involved are you in that negotiation process and how stressful was it? Does it affect your performance on the field at all? I’m not really involved in the negotiations. My manager comes and tells me every time he hears something back, you know what I mean? I didn’t find it too stressful. At the time I was already signed for next year, so at the end of the day there was no real rush to get it done. We got it done pretty swiftly anyway, and it wasn’t really stressful at all for me because I knew I wanted to stay. I don’t want to move away from the Eastern Suburbs. It wasn’t like I had other clubs making offers and other things going around in my head. I had one thing in my head, stay at the Roosters, so it was pretty simple.
Would you be happy to stay at the Roosters for your whole career? Yeah, that’s the plan. I’ve got five years there now. I got a Roosters tattoo after we won the under 20s grand final a few years ago, so I can’t really leave.
Speaking of one-club men, John Sutton from Maroubra just notched up 300 games with Souths – what an achievement! It’s huge, especially for South Sydney. They’ve got such strong supporters and a really loyal club, so for him to be the first to do that, that’s pretty special. It’s something that I dream about – obviously not with Souths, but with the Roosters. I saw that big painting of him at Snape Oval last week, that big mural that says ‘300’, and I was like, “F*ck, that’s hectic.” So yeah, it’s pretty hectic.
Do you think you could play 300 games with the Roosters? I really don’t know. I’ve played 20 and I’m already complaining about corks and whatnot, so we’ll see what happens.
Are there any of the guys from your junior footy days at the Crocs playing alongside you now? There’s Lachlan Lam. He’s full-time training with us in first grade. He’s played with me since under 8s and his old man, former Rooster Adrian, was our coach. And there’s Ethan O’Neill, who’s in the under 20s system at the moment. He’s younger than me, but he played in our Crocs team for two or three years. There are a lot of boys who were in our team that ended up with Randwick playing rugby as well. There’s a good crew of us that are going pretty well. Jack Johnson, also a proud Bronte boy, is currently captaining Randwick’s first grade side; have you had a chance to see him play? Yeah, I’ve watched ‘Yonny’ play a bit. He’s a beast. He works with my brother. A couple of years ago we went to his colts grand final over at Concord Oval. Robert Bruns drove the bus out there.
I was on that bus! Yeah, you were there. I watched him play in that grand final, but I think they ended up losing. I’ve watched him play a few games with Randwick, because I was always at Randwick when I was growing up playing rugby union. I want to get down and watch some more of his games. I only live around the corner, so I can get down to Coogee Oval next time they play.
Did you play for the Clovelly Eagles as well? Yeah.
Did you ever consider playing union rather than league?At some stage you would’ve had to decide between the two codes, right? Yeah, it was in under 15s that I had to cut one of them. I chose rugby league because Adrian Lam was our coach for league – we’d had him since under 8s and we had such a mad crew there – so that made it easy for me. With him as the coach and the crew we had, and then being able to get into the Harold Matthews system at about 15 years old, I think that straight away it was an easy decision to choose league. I think if Randwick had a better set-up for juniors maybe it could’ve been more enticing to play for Randwick. But, you know, putting a Roosters jersey on is pretty cool, so I just really wanted to do that.
What was it like coming up against former Clovelly Crocs/Eagles teammate Tom Wright when you played against Manly recently? It was pretty mad. We saw each other before the game and had a yarn, so it’s pretty hectic. I think I only got to tackle him once. He was a year older than me, so he was always with the team a year up from me, but he was always a gun. His footwork is that quick, he almost got me.
He played in our touch footy team… Is that the Ratpack team?
Yes, how do you know about that? I don’t know, I think Lammy played in that.
Yep, the Lams are a big part of the Ratpack. Who were your role models growing up, in sport and in general? In sport, I think Sonny Bill Williams was. He was a gun. When he came to the Roosters in 2013 and then won the comp with them, it was really something. I was like, “F*ck, he’s the goat, man. He can’t be stopped!” So he was definitely a footy role model. I can’t single handedly name anyone else… I just love everyone.
You mentioned that Adrian Lam was your coach throughout your junior footy, and obviously had a huge influence on you and the other young blokes; what were the main things he taught you? I can pretty much say that I wouldn’t be playing first grade if he wasn’t my coach from that young age. I was always an aggressive kid. From a young age I was getting sent off for high tackles and other random stuff like that, but Adrian really taught me how to harness it. He taught me everything I know and about the smarts of the game. If I didn’t have him around then I’d probably be a pretty dumb football player. You need to be really smart I think, in football terms, to be able to play in the top grades. It’s not just the stronger you are, the better you are. You’ve got to really know the game and he taught me it really clearly. And even just the person I am, I think he helped heaps with that too. If I was ever getting in fights when I was younger he’d pull me into line. I could’ve ended up in the gully with Jack.
Have you ever seen Adrian dance to ‘I’m Still Standing’ by Elton John? I think he rates himself as a bit of a dancer. I remember I’d be around at their house and they’d have a dance- off – him, Lachy and Bailey. Lachy rates himself as a dancer too.
Who’s better, Lachy or Adrian? Adrian is better, for sure.
Did you know that Adrian actually pushed for the club to hold on to you when you were a younger bloke and told them that you were a future Kangaroo? Yeah, him and Peter O’Sullivan told me that a few years ago. I remember when I made the under 20s Kangaroos team he brought it up. I owe him a bit there, too.
Are there any other young blokes at the Roosters that fans should be keeping an eye out for? A couple of weeks ago against the Gold Coast there were a few debuts made – Foasa Faamausili, Paul Momirovski and Sean O’Sullivan. Paul Momirovski is someone that’s going to have a long career. He’s been in the system for years and just got his debut. When you see him in training he’s a freak. He’s so good with his hands. Everything he does, it’s silk. I think we’ve got a lot of players in our Roosters squad that could be playing a lot more first grade somewhere else, but because of the strength of our squad and how much they’re learning, they’re all happy to stay around. We’ve got a really good team and squad that all stick together, so there will be a few players coming through.
You’re the best footy player from the Radley family; who is the best surfer? We’re all kooks. It’s definitely not Jack. He’s Jedi kook. It’d have to be out of me and Harry.
So you’re a better surfer than Jack? I haven’t surfed in a while, but I would’ve been back in the day. Jack just can’t get any better; he’s a kook. He goes on all these Mentawais trips, but he’s shit. Harry’s better than Jack. I think Jack’s shit, that’s all I need to get across.
The vocal support from your Bronte mates on the sidelines has led to some pressure in the press on Rooster’s captain Jake Friend; did Friendy ever have a word to you to tell your mates to reign it in a bit? I remember that. The press came to me and said people were calling for me to get back on the field. It was just the Bronte boys sitting right in the middle of the stadium chanting my name so loud. I said, “Nah, it’s just all my mates, not the whole crowd chanting to get me back on.”
You’re getting some big raps for your big hits, particularly the shot on Marty Taupau and the try saver on Dylan Walker in round 9; do you feel that you’ve got a bit of a target on your head now that you’re getting a name as a bit of an enforcer? I don’t think it’s a target on my head. No one’s going to try and take my head off. It’s too easy to miss a week these days. I don’t mind it. When people try and come after me, it gets me going a bit more. I’m happy for whatever people want to say, but I think that’s really just the press. I don’t think it’s any players or anything like that. It’s all just talk.
Who is the scariest opponent you’ve come up against? I think it’s more people like James Roberts or like little fast guys like Anthony Milford and players like that. If they get you with a bit of space around you, they carve you up and make you look like an idiot.
Are you completely fearless, or do you actually get nervous and scared before games, especially when you’re playing some of the bigger, more aggressive teams? Definitely not scared. I think it’s more nervous. And the nerves probably come from not wanting to let your teammates
down. There’d be nothing worse than letting in a try to lose a game. I remember on ANZAC Day, I was on the bench that game, and it was a packed stadium at Allianz. That was the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life by a country mile.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from another player or coach? My current coach, Trent Robinson, always says, “Why are
you here in the first place?” You don’t need to change; you’ve just got to remember how you got to this position in the first place. I can’t start changing how I play now that I’m here, you know? He just reminds me of that. He’s really clear about all of us just being ourselves.
Trent Robinson has been pretty successful as a coach; is he just the ultimate motivator or what? What gives the successful coaches at the elite level that edge? I’ve been pretty blessed with coaches coming through, so I think what he says just, it’s just so clear. It is so clear when he says it and he doesn’t say too much. He doesn’t fill your head with all different stuff. He just gives you what you need to know, and then he even says, “Alright, take everything you can in during the week, but once a game comes if you haven’t got it, well you haven’t got it,” you know. It’s not something you should be thinking about during the game. So he just makes it so clear for you, and you never go into the game thinking, “Oh, I’ve got so much to think about.” You know what I mean? It’s real simple. Be yourself. Go out there and play how you play, and the other stuff that we’ve done during the week, that’ll be in there so don’t be thinking about it too much.
Are the Roosters going to win the premiership in 2018? That’s the plan. I think it’s going to be a tight finish this season.
Who’s your toughest opponent? Souths carved us up when we last played, that was a hard game. Ihaven’t really played an easy game this year, to be honest. Everyone’s pretty tough.
What’s your preferred position? I prefer playing lock.
What position did you play growing up? It was always lock until I was about 18, playing under 20s, and then I filled in at hooker a bit. That was how I got my start in the team, being on the bench and being able to play a few positions.
You’ve scored a couple of tries this season already; do you get a bigger buzz from scoring a try or pulling off a huge try-saving tackle? Try-saving tackle, definitely. My first try was pretty cool, but I didn’t really do anything. Luke Keary just did a mad flick pass and I was on the end of it.
Is Jake Friend an awesome captain? Yeah, him and Boyd Cordner are the epitome of what a captain should be. They lead by example. I don’t think I’ve ever heard them blow up at someone. They’re such good blokes, on and off the field. I could ring Jake right now and ask him for anything if I needed help and he wouldn’t even question it, he’s just so generous.
Have you checked out his café, High St Society in Randwick? Yeah, we were there the other week. It’s mad. It’s got such a good feel there and the food is mad. The chef is from Bali; mad food!
When you watch the replays of some of your bigger hits on blokes who have 10 or 20 kilos on you, do you ever think to yourself, “How the hell did I get away with that?” A few times, like in under 20s, I’ve gone for it and knocked myself out. I’ve always got to be careful that I could go for one and just a slight little body movement by them and I will knock myself straight out. I know that a lot of stuff needs to happen for it to re- ally work, so when I get one it’s like, it’s not really luck but…
Timing? Yeah, it’s timing and just knowing when to take it, you know? So if I take it at the wrong time that’s when I will knock myself out, but when someone really squares you up you can go for one.
Some of the NRL crowds have been pretty woeful this season despite the quality of the games being played; if you were in charge of the NRL, what would you do to get the crowd numbers up? I think anyone under 16 should be let in free. I think that would help, but I’m no marketing bloke. I guess cheaper tickets all round and free tickets for kids is probably a good start. It’s 10 bucks for a pie there, so I definitely think entry for kids should be free. If they had cheaper tickets I know that’d make it a lot easier to go to the game. Not everyone wants to pay 30 or 40 bucks to get into the game. It’s just too much, especially for a family.
What would you be doing for work if you weren’t playing professional rugby league? I’d be a carpenter. I did my carpentry apprenticeship with my old man. I left school in year 10 and did four years with him. I finished that at the end of last year. I wouldn’t be working for Dad though. I’d be working with Dan Norton because he’s a grouse boss.
Everyone loves working for Dan Norton… He’s such a legend – he pays on time, two smokos, cruisey, he’s a good bloke… he’s mad. “I remember back to when I was a kid at Burrows Park meeting all the Roosters players and it was so inspiring.”
What other skills do you have? Can you play a musical instrument or speak another language? No, I’m just getting English. I can’t dance. I’m not really good at anything. I just love playing footy and getting on the beers. Two loves.
Are you interested in politics? No. Actually, we saw Malcolm Turnbull; he came to one of our games. He came into the sheds, which was pretty cool. I went to shake his hand and he left me hanging. It was pretty ruthless.
What are your favourite things about the Eastern Suburbs? The beaches. I’m living just on Coogee Beach now, but last week I went down
to Bronte with Boyd Cordner just before training and it just takes your breath away. It’s f*cking mad. It’s so good. Growing up I lived at Bondi, then Clovelly, and now my family is at South Coogee. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
What shits you about the Eastern Suburbs? Maybe the crowds sometimes, especially in summer. And maybe the parking police, because I get a few fines. But I’m not too fussed about anything, you know. I mean, look where we live.
Have you had the opportunity to do any work in the community or any charity work? I wouldn’t call it charity work, but we do a lot of promos with all of the kids camps and stuff like that.
Community development sort of stuff? Yeah. I like going to all those things. Sometimes you’re tired, but once you’re there with all the young kids they’re just so happy to see you. I remember back to when I was a kid at Burrows Park meeting all the Roosters players and it was so inspiring. You’ve got to think of it like when you were a kid and looked up to those guys, and then you want to get right in and do that sort of thing.
What’s your ultimate goal as far as your footy career goes? Obviously playing Origin and for Australia, but we mentioned John Sutton earlier, and that’s something that is definitely an ultimate goal, to play 300 games for the one club. Especially the Roosters.
How long have you had the nickname Victor the Inflictor? I played four games for the Coogee Wombats while I was still in under 20s, because if you didn’t play under 20s Roost- ers that week you had to go find somewhere else to play. I went and played A Grade for Coogee because Clovelly didn’t have a side. I played with a couple of other older Bronte boys, Brendan McKinnon and Froggy, and I think I hit a few blokes while playing for them, and that’s where it started. I think it was actually Brendan and Froggy that started it. They made a massive sign saying ‘Victor the Inflictor’ for the under 20s grand final and then I think it just stuck.
In an ideal world what does the future hold for Victor Radley? I’d be living in the Eastern Suburbs for the rest of my life and one day own a house here, and I’d never leave the Roosters. That’s the dream.
And find a beautiful lady and have lots of little mini Victor Radleys… Yeah. Have four boys. One of them can grow up in the gully. Perfect.