By: Stuart Honeysett
SYDNEY’S eastern suburbs has a strong cafe culture but it was a coffee shop on the Gold Coast that changed the course of Daniel Conn’s life.
It was there Conn met Sydney Roosters coach Brian Smith and raised the prospect of making the switch from Broadbeach to Bondi.
“I was happy up there (at the Gold Coast) but I had a few injuries and I just thought a change was what I needed,” Conn said.
“I was fortunate enough to meet ‘Smithy’ late last year. He came up to the Gold Coast and I had lunch with him. He’s one of those sort of coaches you can sit down with and have a good chat to.
“He didn’t do me any favours but he didn’t have anything against me and brought me down here. He just said, ‘Come down for a crack’ and that’s pretty much what it is.
“You’ve got to take your opportunity and keep your head on which I think I’ve done most of the year.
“A bit of luck and a bit of hard work has paid off.”
Until this season, Conn was probably better known for his reputation as a lady killer given he had been linked to American Pie star Tara Reid and porn actress Gina Lynn.
He has managed to shake that image somewhat this season following a series of strong performances for the Roosters including Saturday night’s semi-final win over Penrith at the SFS to set up a showdown with his old club.
After the game, Smith was quick to highlight the contributions off the bench of Conn, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Martin Kennedy to keep the Roosters’ fairytale season alive.
“I was probably most impressed with the trifecta off the bench for us tonight – Jared, Kenno and Conny just brought some real physical clout to the table,” Smith said.
“Conny has been around for a while and has pretty much done that stuff all year for us, we’ve all expected Jared to do well because we’ve seen him play some Test footy and seen him stand up in that arena, but Kenno is the one who has come from the clouds as the year has gone on and has just got better and better.”
They will have to be at their toughest again at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night given they are coming up against a Titans outfit that will be fresh after knocking out the Warriors in the opening week of the finals to earn a weekend off.
Conn said he would be unable to provide insight this week into any weaknesses of his former teammates, but that they would be determined to make amends after limping out of the finals series in successive weeks last year.
“They were pretty shattered but they’ve been there and done it sort of thing so it will make it even tougher for us next week,” Conn said.
“I think ‘Carty’ (coach John Cartwright) will be keen to make amends for last year so they’ll be ready to go.”
While much of the attention will focus on trying to shut down the genius of halfback Scott Prince, Conn said he was more concerned about the Titans’ engine room of Luke Bailey, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello and Ashley Harrison.
“They’ve got plenty of strikepower everywhere but the main thing for me to worry about is some of the bigger boys leading them forward,” Conn said.
“They’ve just got big engines and big hearts and they just rip in the whole time.
“They’re an awesome outfit and they’ve just gone from strength to strength and Matty Rogers and Princey lead them around and they’ll be wanting to finish their year on a high.
“We’ve got a lot to work on and tonight was a little bit scrappy in some areas, and if we’re going to threaten we need to work on those things.”
The link to the interview on The Australian’s site: http://bit.ly/9255tt