Kyogle fullback shines for the Tweed Seagulls
By Steve Spinks firstname.lastname@example.org TWEED Seagulls Queensland Cup coach Troy McCarthy believes his star fullback Shannon Walker will be in the National Rugby League within 12 months.
Walker, formerly of Kyogle, has been lighting up the top Queensland competition and has become a crowd favourite at Piggabeen as the Seagulls occupy third spot on the Queensland Cup ladder.
"He's probably been doing something extraordinary at least once a game," a clearly impressed McCarthy told The Northern Star.
"I guess that's something we should be getting used to for the rest of his career.
"As a schoolboy footballer he had a lot of mistakes in him but he's not making those mistakes this year.
"I think he'll be there (in the NRL) within 12 months."
And McCarthy, the son of former Australian great Bob McCarthy, should know a thing or two about the game. He played in the NRL with the Gold Coast Seagulls before becoming head coach with the Gold Coast Titans feeder team.
Walker is among the leading try-scorers of the competition, spearheading the Seagulls' surge up the ladder and, barring injury, he should be in the fullback jersey for the semi-finals.
Tweed joined the Queensland Cup in 2003 and have recorded a best placing of fourth.
The top two teams in the competition, Redcliffe and North Queensland, have escaped with 22-18 victories over the Tweed team in recent weeks.
Walker is not the only Northern Rivers product in the side. Hard-working second-rower and Walker's schoolmate from Kyogle, Will Mathews, has shown McCarthy enough to suggest that he won't be far away from joining Walker in the NRL.
"It's probably harder for him to adjust because he's in the forwards," the Tweed mentor said.
"He started off on the bench getting 20 minutes, but now he's in the starting side and he just keeps improving. "He does some great things that no other player can do. The Queensland Cup is just a stepping stone for him."
Walker and Mathews were in the Australian schoolboys rugby league team last season.
Completing the list of local talent are props Chris Farrell and Dan Molenaar.
Farrell, of Evans Head, is a former Marist Brothers player and he's been strong in the engine room for the Seagulls. However, the big prop has succumbed to injury and missed the past few rounds.
His loss has allowed Molenaar, of Mullumbimby, into the squad and the former Giants 2004 premiership winning team-member has shown he's up to the top grade.
"He's had a few injuries and had a few setbacks over the off-season but we've earmarked him for a big future," McCarthy said.
"I think Dan doesn't realise how good he could be." The Seagulls play Brisbane Souths this Sunday at Piggabeen.