Irishman to leave NRL dream behind
He may yet to get to taste the excitement of NRL Grand Final Day but Northern Pride forward Tyrone McCarthy has vowed to return to Australia should an opportunity to link with an NRL club present itself in future.
McCarthy will line up in the back row for the Pride on Sunday against Easts Tigers in the Intrust Super Cup Grand Final with the winners to advance to the NRL State Championship where they will play the winners of the VB NSW Cup Grand Final between Penrith or Newcastle as the main curtain-raiser to the NRL Grand Final.
It would be a hell of a way for McCarthy to farewell Australia after one season having sought a new challenge to reinvigorate his rugby league career after struggling to make his mark with Warrington in the English Super League.
A 12-time Irish international, McCarthy joined the Wolves at 16 years of age but after just 47 games in five seasons decided to shake things up by coming to Australia.
"I had opportunities to sign at the club I was at and other Super League clubs and a bit of the family were like, 'Why would you turn down a full-time deal' but at the time I'd always wanted to travel to Australia," McCarthy said ahead of Sunday's decider at Suncorp Stadium.
"I'd been out a couple of times on tours – Warrington had a pre-season in Sydney – and I always enjoyed it and just thought it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
"Playing back home with my long-time club at Warrington Wolves I just started to get a bit frustrated with a lack of opportunity that I wanted at the club. It's the club that I supported when I was younger and just started looking at options for me to get some regular footy and to start enjoying my footy again.
"'JD' (Pride coach Jason Demetriou) got in touch and from there it pretty much decided to come out to Australia and give it a crack out here. It was more so a new opportunity and a new place and take myself out of my comfort zone and enjoy my footy again."
Through the power of Twitter, Pride coach Jason Demetriou got wind of McCarthy's itch feet and having seen him play at close quarters, enquired about his interest in a year Down Under.
It was an offer that was gladly accepted but an offer to return to the Super League in England with Hull Kingston Rovers from next season means this trip to Australia will be a relatively short one for McCarthy.
"As the season progressed I was real keen to get an NRL deal but nothing materialised before the Hull KR deal came in and it was just a bit of security," McCarthy said of the decision to head home.
"I'd love to come back down here further down the line and give that a shot if that was ever to happen. If that's going to happen I'm sure it will, if it's meant to be but I've loved every minute of being out here, the lifestyle and the attitude towards the game, how big it is out here."
His Instagram and Twitter accounts (@TykeMc) may be full of scenic beachside landscapes, resort pools and even a bout of croc wrestling but since arriving at the Pride McCarthy has given wonderful service on and off the field.
Despite almost 20 degrees difference between the average maximum temperature in Cairns compared to Warrington, McCarthy is one of only two Pride players to have played every game this season and has assisted assistant coach Joe O'Callaghan in delivering a rugby league curriculum to disengaged kids in local schools.
A powerful runner on the Pride's right edge and with a left-foot step that has helped him to yield nine tries this season, McCarthy watched on in awe as Queensland and New South Wales did battle at Suncorp Stadium in Origin I back in May and now, in perhaps his final game on Australian soil, he gets to step into 'the Cauldron' before heading home to England.
"I come to watch the first State of Origin game here this year and took it all in, just for how good it would have been to get to run out there and how many great players have run out there," the 26-year-old said. "It's something that I've obviously been thinking about all year and real fortunate to do so this weekend.
"I didn't know what I was expecting, whether I was going to be starting every week or whether I was going to be maybe out on the fringes, I didn't know what to expect so it was a bit of a more gamble and hopefully for me it's paid off.
"I think I am quite appreciative of life anyway but when I go home I'll definitely appreciate being back in that full-time environment and giving my all each and every week and just making sure that I take every opportunity with two hands all the time."