Young guns seek a second chance
Two of the hottest prospects to have emerged through the NRL's National Youth Competition will endeavour to reinvigorate their NRL dreams in Queensland after signing to play in the Intrust Super Cup in 2015.
Outstanding Dragons prospect Evander Cummins will once again wear red and white next season after joining the Redcliffe Dolphins while highly-regarded Bulldogs youngster Patrick Templeman will play with Wynnum Manly.
A member of the New South Wales under-20s team in 2012, Cummins looked destined for a long career in the No.1 jersey at the Dragons before injuries and the recruitment of both Josh Dugan and Gerard Beale knocked him down the pecking order.
After signing with Parramatta at the end of the 2013 season, he spent this year playing with Wentworthville in the NSW Cup but has been handed a fresh start in Queensland by Dolphins coach Troy Lindsay.
Templeman's arrival at Wynnum is a massive boost to the Seagulls after the point-scoring phenomenon appeared headed to the Northern Pride and an off-season trial with the North Queensland Cowboys.
But with a host of Intrust Super Cup clubs seeking his signature, Wynnum's close ties with the Broncos may have swayed the 21-year-old's decision to move to Brisbane instead.
Templeman scored more than 300 points in the 2013 NYC season and was in line to replace Ben Barba following his departure from Belmore but was unable to crack a first grade position at the Bulldogs in 2014.
Joining Cummins at Redcliffe is former Rooster and Panther Anthony Cherrington who has endured a horrific run of injuries since bursting onto the scene as a 20-year-old way back in 2008.
Burleigh have also secured two handy acquisitions in Josh Ailaomai and Andrew Vela but have already lost Henare Wells for the majority of the season due to a knee injury.
Wells, a former Roosters under-20s star who came to prominence in 2014 by scoring six tries in a single game for the Bears, tore his ACL while playing in a game of touch footy with his family and coach Jim Lenihan is resigned to being without him for much of 2015.
"Best case scenario is that he might be back June or July if everything goes perfectly so we consider that he won't be playing. If he does come back at some point it will be a bit of a bonus for us," Lenihan said of the Queensland Residents representative.
"He was certainly someone we had pencilled in for fullback but it gives an opportunity to other people; Khan Ahwang is one person who might be able to slot in there. We'll see how we go and what we get back from the Titans."
Experienced NRL players Matt Keating and Matthew Bell both retired in the off-season with Burleigh's forward stocks reinforced by the signings of Ailaomai and Vela, not to mention the recruitment of PNG international Jason Chan from the UK Super League.
A fleet-footed front-rower, Ailaomai has had stints with Newcastle, the Roosters and the Dragons before arriving at Burleigh while Vela came close to an NRL call-up with the Wests Tigers in 2012 before suffering a shoulder injury.
Burleigh players Kyle McConnell (Cowboys), Luke Page (Raiders) and Ahwang (Titans) have parlayed strong seasons in the Intrust Super Cup into NRL opportunities and Lenihan sees no reason why his two latest recruits can't enjoy similar success.
"The NRL systems are very ruthless and there's certainly a time where you show potential and then you've got to fulfil that potential and maybe some players don't quite reach what they were hopefully pegged out to be," Lenihan said.
"Coming back to the Intrust Super Cup is in no way shape or form a backward step. They can certainly still make the NRL and move on from here.
"We've had three players last year from Burleigh move on to NRL systems so hopefully with Josh we can get the best football out of him and there is an opportunity to carve his way into a full-time NRL position.
"He's got some great natural attributes for a very big boy; he can bounce around like an outside back and he's got some fairly quick acceleration so there's no doubt he's got some ability. He's just got to work hard on those efforts upon efforts."