Blackhawks eye Humble, Parker-Walshe
Townsville Blackhawks coach Kristian Woolf believes he can assemble a competitive squad for the 2015 Intrust Super Cup season if the club can land both Tom Humble from the Panthers and former under-20s star Michael Parker-Walshe.
The Blackhawks are poised to announce up to six key player signings on Thursday for their inaugural season in Queensland Rugby League's premier competition with the finishing touches being put to the negotiations with both Humble and Parker-Walshe.
With NRL experience at the Eels, Wests Tigers and Panthers, Humble starred in Penrith's VB NSW Cup premiership victory this year and as a former Cowboys under-20s representative Woolf is keen to have him back in Townsville to steer rugby league's newest franchise around the park.
"I'm not sure where he's at in terms of putting pen to paper but we're certainly very hopeful to get him up there," Woolf said of the prospects of Humble joining the Blackhawks.
"With his experience and leadership... he was certainly one of the better halves – if not the best half – in the NSW Cup this year so he'll be terrific for us and he's got a local connection to the area so that's the sort of guy that we're looking for.
"We've got 15 or 16 guys that have at least verbally committed that we think will do a good job but we're still looking and in discussions with some boys at the moment that we're very hopeful of getting who we think will be really good Queensland Cup players."
There will be great interest in the contribution of Parker-Walshe should he also link with the Blackhawks after two years in relative rugby league wilderness.
A standout in the North Queensland Cowboys under-20s team of 2011 alongside Michael Morgan, Jason Taumalolo and Kyle Feldt and coached by Woolf, Parker-Walshe represented the Junior Kiwis that year before walking away from the game at the start of the 2012 season.
He later returned to play local footy for Townsville Brothers and this year represented the XXXX Queensland Rangers, Woolf hopeful that he can recapture his junior exploits and transfer it to a larger arena.
"He's like Tommy, we're a fair way down the track with him and hopefully he'll put pen to paper very soon," Woolf told NRL.com while in Brisbane preparing the Mate Ma'a Tonga team to play Papua New Guinea on Sunday.
"He's got a lot of potential. He's probably been a little bit by the wayside for the last year or two but you don't lose that potential and I think in the right environment he can be a really strong player in the Queensland Cup."
The Blackhawks' admission into the Intrust Super Cup next season was only announced on September 10 at the Queensland Rugby League annual gala awards night but they have since snared off-contract Cowboys Ricky Thorby and Anthony Mitchell.
It is a local connection Woolf is determined to stick to and which he believes gives them the best chance of success in 2015 and beyond.
"We want to build a culture straight away that's a strong culture with a tough work ethic so we're certainly looking for that ilk of player," Woolf said. "We also want to have a real local feel to it so our first port of call has been guys like Tommy who have got a connection to the area and have played their footy there at some stage so that's the type of guy that we're trying to get back there.
"We need to be competitive straight away and that's certainly been our charter since I started talking to them and we're a fair way down the track.
"It's a big task but we'll get it done and I'm confident we'll be competitive in our first year."