You can take the boy out of Singleton but you can’t take Singleton out of the boy.
That saying seems to sum up Kerrod Holland to a tee.
The former Greyhound enjoyed a fleeting NRL career during a stellar stint with the Canterbury Bulldogs, which spawned 71 appearances between 2016 and 2020.
For good measure, he scored 20 tries and booted 80 goals for a tally of 240 points – not a bad haul for a lad from the bush.
And, even though Holland’s now plying his trade in the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) with the Macquarie Scorpions, his hometown is never far from his thoughts.
In fact, he recently attended the Hunter Valley Group 21 club’s 2021 season launch at The Albion.
“I like to get back to Singleton as much as I can, even if it’s just to help out the kids,” he said.
“I’ll never forget where I’ve come from.
“They were always good to me.
“I do have a lot of fond memories from my time with the Greyhounds.
“I was lucky enough to win a couple of premierships [there] when I was basically a kid coming into first grade.
“Yeah, I love Singleton, the team and the people in the community.
“I know they’ve got a strong junior base – and I always return whenever I can to assist them, as well as the seniors.
“It was great being invited to their function the other night.
“I see Gary Gardner (in partnership with Mark Newman) is coaching the top side this year.
“He’s a great bloke.
“I was first introduced to Gaz when I was a 16-year-old.
“In 2008, he came down to a game, and spoke to the boys, as we were heading into the under-18 ranks.
“So, I know the club’s in good hands with GG at the helm.”
Holland has been one of the Greyhounds’ highest-profile success stories in recent times, along with current Newcastle Knights front-rower Josh King.
And, the pair boasts a nice little rivalry.
“Kingy’s a good fella,” he said.
“I played with him at Cessnock (Goannas) as well when he was coming through the Knights’ system.
“So, I always tell him he’s Singleton’s ‘greatest’ every time we catch up these days.
“He’s a real role model for that community, too.”
After leaving the Greyhounds, Holland linked up with the Goannas in the Real NRL before joining the Knights’ New South Wales Cup squad at the request of present Maitland Pickers mentor Matt Lantry.
In 2015, Newcastle won the grand final, at the expense of the Wyong Roos, and the youngster was named centre in the Team of the Year, securing a contract with the Bulldogs in the process.
He then debuted for Canterbury’s NRL outfit against the Penrith Panthers in 2016 – and made an immediate impact.
With the scores locked up at 16-all, Holland landed a conversion after the full-time siren to seal the victory.
Following another 70 matches, he announced his plans to retire from the NRL at the end of 2020.
But, he has no regrets.
“It’s good [playing in the Real NRL]; although it’s a little bit of a change,” Holland said.
“It is just nice coming back ‘home’ and running around again enjoying my footy.
“Family was the main reason I left the NRL.
“I’m at a young enough age where I can still offer something to the game.
“So, it was always an option to play rugby league in the Newcastle competition.
“I sort of knew six months before I announced it [retirement], especially with COVID-19 and everything that hit.
“I’ve also got a young family.
“My wife was pregnant with our second child, so it was time for us to return home.
“She’d sacrificed a lot for us to go down there (Sydney) to allow me to pursue my dreams.
“But, there was a possibility to head over to England as well at the start of the year.
“However, with COVID-19, things just didn’t work out.
“So, it was time to come home.
“Don’t get me wrong, I loved my moment in the NRL.
“I’m definitely glad I took the opportunity to go down there and chase my dreams.
“It was a big part of my life for five years.
“It was great and it’s an experience I’ll look back on very fondly for many years to come.”
But, for now, Holland’s a Scorpion – and loving every minute of it.
After dropping its opening Real NRL match to The Entrance Tigers 22-12, Macquarie is riding high on the back of three consecutive victories – against the South Newcastle Lions (22-10), Western Suburbs Rosellas (18-10) and the Roos (36-12).
“I think we’ve assembled a great squad,” the 28-year-old said.
“Obviously, it’s only early [in the season].
“We’ve got a lot of things we need to work on to make sure we’re a formidable force come August/September.
“And, I’m sure we will.
“It’s exciting to see some of the prospects that they’ve got in the club; and having the chance to work with some of the kids.
“I enjoy passing on a bit of knowledge that I’ve gained [from my time in the NRL].
“Plus, it makes my job in the team easier as well.
“I was at that professional level for five years, so I’ve witnessed a lot.
“Also, I’ve been under a phenomenal coach in Des Hasler – and seen the way he operates.
“If I can pass on any wisdom, or if any of the boys have questions, I’m only too willing to assist.
“It’s a strong competition in 2021.
“However, the upside is all on us.
“The harder we work, the luckier we’ll get.
“I don’t plan on coming second.”
FOOTNOTE: For good measure, Holland landed six goals from as many attempts in the Scorpions’ impressive 36-12 victory over the Wyong Roos at the weekend.
2021 Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League
NSWRL Denton Cup
(round 4 results)
Cessnock Goannas 30 (Denzel Burns 3, Gerome Burns, Jayden Young tries; Adrian Davis 5 goals) defeated Lakes United Seagulls 0
Macquarie Scorpions 36 (Callan Briggs, Royce Geoffrey, Joe Woodbury, Luke Higgins, Ro Buaserau, Campbell Sheppard tries; Kerrod Holland 6 goals) defeated Wyong Roos 12 (Blake Andrews, Terence Seuseu tries; Lachlan Hanneghan 2 goals)
Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 14 (Mitchell Cullen, Henry Penn tries; Kade Hardy 3 goals) defeated Western Suburbs Rosellas 10 (Benjamin Glasheen try; Michael Hendry 3 goals)
Maitland Pickers 28 (Carl Randall, James Bradley, Peter Wilson, Tom Hughes, Perry Le Brocque tries; Brock Lamb 4 goals) defeated South Newcastle Lions 12 (Jake Dooley, Jason Keelan tries; Keelan 2 goals)
Central Newcastle Butcher Boys 20 (Tim Christie 2, Brad Murray, Ethan Cook tries; Dylan Phythian 2 goals) defeated The Entrance Tigers 18 (Tim Nawaqatabu 2, Max Trueman tries; Josh Mantellato 3 goals)
Round five draw:
Saturday 24 April
3pm: Macquarie Scorpions v Kurri Kurri Bulldogs (Lyall Peacock Oval)
3pm: Cessnock Goannas v Wyong Roos (Cessnock Sportsground)
3pm: Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v Western Suburbs Rosellas (St Johns Oval)
3pm: Lakes United Seagulls v Maitland Pickers (Cahill Oval)
4pm: The Entrance Tigers v South Newcastle Lions (EDSACC Oval)