At the age of 19, Wesley Bruines has already enjoyed a remarkable journey in rugby league and joins St Helens ahead of the 2023 season on a one-year deal.
The outside-back from Dewsbury missed out on a scholarship contract as a youngster, but went on to feature for Yorkshire Under-17s, England Community Lions and at college before catching the eye of now-Wakefield boss Mark Applegarth.
Bruines spent two years with Trinity before rejecting a deal with the reserves to embark on a journey Down Under, where he went on to feature for South Sydney Rabbitohs Under-21s.
Wesley Bruines reveals rugby league journey
“I didn’t do any scholarships, I didn’t get picked up so I continued training on my own,” Bruines told Love Rugby League.
“I found a gym and started training on my own and was playing at college under Mark Applegarth, who was the coach at the time.
“He saw a bit of talent in me and had me training with the academy at Wakefield within a month.
“I was training with them and then Saints came in for me. I wasn’t signed at the time, so I had a bit of a decision to make. This was in the academy, and I was already training with Wakefield and I was being looked after so I stuck to where I was and signed a two-year deal in 2020.
“I struggled a bit at Wakefield with injuries. My time there wasn’t as good as it probably could have been.
“They offered me a reserves deal, but I thought I wanted to do something myself. I wanted to make a name for myself and I didn’t want to get stuck in the system.
“That’s when about five of us thought about going to Australia, and two of us ended up going. We both ended up going to different places and ended up on a different journey.”
Bruines moved to Coffs Harbour as an 18-year-old, working as a landscaper. He arrived expecting to play the year for Coffs Harbour Comets, before catching the attention of South Sydney Rabbitohs.
“I played a couple of games and a month later had signed with South Sydney Rabbitohs Under-21s playing Jersey Flegg,” Bruines explained, going on to make nine appearances in the competition.
“Personally, I didn’t expect that. I was going to play a year countryside and go from there. It all happened within two months.”
“I couldn’t believe it when I got the call”
Bruines later got homesick following a visit from his father, and decided to contact an agent and explore options back home.
And it came as a surprise when history-makers St Helens came calling, offering the youngster a 12-month contract and the number 34 shirt.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got a call,” he said.
“It’s unbelievable. The last year has been crazy. When I came back, I was living with family but now I’ve started training I’ve moved over with Tee Ritson. By chance, we both have the same agent so they put us in a house together.
“We’ve been proper looked after by Mike Rush. It’s been unbelievable.
“My goal now is to make my Super League debut. I want to make a name for myself out there. I want to earn a spot and a longer contract and keep on learning.”