It has now been confirmed that Corey Norman has parted ways with the Eels to ink a three year deal with the Dragons, commencing in 2019.
Much has been written about Normz’ time with the Eels, both in mainstream and social media. He’s copped flak for his looseness both on and off the field, and there’s probably not an Eels fan who doesn’t hold a strong opinion about the talented five-eighth.
Over the years, I’ve been a supporter of his value to the team. Though I was critical of some of Corey’s games in 2018, he wasn’t Robinson Crusoe. The Eels finished bottom of the table and you can’t blame a single player for that.
What I would like to do, on behalf of The Cumberland Throw, is to thank Corey for his time at the Eels and to set a few records straight as best I can.
As a player, Corey Norman has clocked up 169 NRL appearances since debuting with the Broncos in 2010. He’s donned the Blue and Gold jersey 106 times since 2014. You just don’t play that many games of NRL without significant ability.
In his time with the Eels he’s had his share of highlights. He’s represented the Prime Ministers XIII and been in contention for a Maroons call up. If not for his suspension for off-field issues in 2016, a Dally M Medal was well within his grasp.
It’s impossible to deny that Normz could be a bit of a loose unit in his own time. However, he did no harm to others, and aside from that 2016 suspension, his shenanigans mostly impacted his own reputation.
But there is a side to Corey Norman that few see.
Having watched training religiously since 2014, I can honestly say that he is consistently one of the best prepared footballers that I’ve watched. Yes he has plenty to say, and plenty to joke about. But he’s always one of the best conditioned in the squad, is a natural footballer, and I’ve watched him do skills drills literally with his eyes closed that have other footballers fumbling and bumbling to complete.
Furthermore, over the years I’ve been told a few stories by people who’ve known him, and what’s been shared portrays a generous and caring young man. There’s plenty of those caring people in footy, and like Normz, they never seek publicity for the things they do for others.
Corey’s affection for the club could be measured in his attitude towards supporters. Nothing is too much trouble when it comes to photos or autographs, and the things he’s done in his own time for supporters have never been publicised.
It’s unlikely that Corey wanted to leave, and over the course of this pre-season, you’d never guess that he was about to depart. He’s been a total professional in his training, and been buoyant on the field, mentoring the young players along the way.
And his relationship with BA? When those rumours were circulating that they weren’t on speaking terms, I was watching Norman making BA laugh out on the training paddock. He was possibly a pain in the arse for the coach but he could always manage to get him to crack a laugh or a smile.
Then to the Members Open Day at Old Saleyards last week. With his imminent move to the Dragons plastered all over the media, there was Corey Norman giving it his all at training, as he always does.
So as Corey Norman moves on in his career, I’d like to wish him well (but as a Dragon, not too well). Those best wishes are also extended to his clothing label, You Know The Rules – YKTR.
Thanks for your time in the Blue and Gold, Corey.