Jets unearth another NRL prospect
Matt Parcell is on his way to Manly and Carlin Anderson has signed a one-year deal with the Broncos and now Ipswich coach Ben Walker has urged NRL clubs to look closely at rampaging back-rower Billy McConnachie.
With bone-rattling tackles and unbridled runs into the defence McConnachie was a worthy winner of the Duncan Hall Medal as man of the match in Ipswich's 32-20 win over Townsville in the Intrust Super Cup Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
The victory under the unorthodox coaching of Ben and Shane Walker was one of great courage by the Jets who were forced to back up their blistering attack in the first half with brave defence in the second after losing forwards Josh Seage (concussion) and Kurt Capewell (ankle) to injury.
At the heart of their resolve was a 25-year-old Mt Isa product only discovered by the Walkers when he came to Ipswich to play in a Murri carnival three years ago.
Sunday's grand final heroics marked the end of McConnachie's first full season in the Intrust Super Cup and Walker has no doubt he has the temperament and skill set to take his game even further.
"He was ironing blokes out every tackle in that carnival and we knew that he was going to be a good one," Walker said.
"Billy worked really hard in that carnival, he was super competitive, he needed to work on his skill but we knew once we got him to us we could work on that.
"He spent the first part of his time with us in reserve grade and he's improving week on week.
"Whether he goes to the next level, it's just a matter of him getting an opportunity. He's obviously gifted enough but at the end of the day it's whether people see something in him that we certainly do.
"He's 100 per cent professional, goes about his job and is so eager to improve and is a pleasure to coach."
With son Riley and daughter Haivyn by his side McConnachie was still trying to process being named man of the match after a game at Suncorp Stadium rather than thinking ahead to a possible career in the NRL.
He will get the chance to impress in front of audience the size of which he could never have imagined previously but said it will be his two children and partner Neradene Savuro that will be foremost in his mind.
"It would be a dream come true if I do," McConnachie said of an NRL call-up.
"If it happens it happens but if it doesn't I'll just be happy playing at a good level of rugby league and enjoying it.
"It's good to be a good role model for my son and hopefully he can follow in my footsteps and play NRL one day.
"Living out in the bush at Mt Isa you can get stuck in a rut and I did get stuck in that rut for a bit and I wanted to get myself out of it.
"I knew I had talent and I didn't want it going to waste. I didn't want to be one of those people who say, 'I could have done this' and didn't do it.
"I've never played in front of a crowd like this and first time playing at Suncorp so it's unbelievable."