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Man in demand: Charity, contracts and rep rise of big-hearted Welch

Christian Welch is a man in demand, dealing with the big dogs and bigger dollars of his next contract while bouncing negotiating tactics and his Origin prospects off Kevin Walters.

But it all matters little when you're eyeing the bigger picture.

Magic Round's most enduring images came not from the Suncorp turf but its stands.

From the smallest fans for whom this meant the most.

Welch played his part in the justifiably hyped weekend out for nine-year-old Toowoomba trooper Angus Hopkins.

The Storm prop set in motion an astounding rugby league response to the news Hopkins, who has cerebral palsy, had been forced to use a wheelbarrow to get around his family's country farm while waiting on a new electronic wheelchair via the NDIS.

With accommodation and tickets sorted for Hopkins' family, the young Broncos fan left Suncorp with the experience of a lifetime, Anthony Milford's boots and a lasting impact on one of the game's true good guys.

"It all snowballed and has been pretty incredible, a pretty special response for a family doing it pretty tough," Welch told

"Poor Angus has been waiting ages to get that specialised wheelchair and it's nice to be able to use rugby league's profile to put a smile on a kid's face.

"I registered as a volunteer to get involved with Camp Quality's camps last year and when these kids are in hospital wards for six to eight weeks at a time and then they get some relief, a bright spot with the camps by going ten pin bowling, ice skating, it's great to see.

"You see how resilient they are, they're dealt some terrible hands but are just so happy and joyful they are.

"It gives you perspective on your life and your issues. You get dropped from first grade or have an average game, you might be kicking stones but you've got it pretty good in comparison.

"I'm frustrated with my footy a lot of the time. I'll wish I was left on a bit longer, played longer or something and I'll go 'hang on, it doesn't mean shit' compared to what I see with these kids."

The $10,000 Welch raised for Camp Quality by hosting a 'Dine At Mine' event in his backyard earned him the Storm's Ken Stephen Medal nomination last year.

This year he's aiming for $20,000, with Craig Bellamy and Storm founder John Ribot on board for an affair aimed at the corporate crowd.

It's a serious impact for one of the game's rising stars with an increasingly full plate.

The 24-year-old's steady rise has him on the cusp of a Queensland bench spot, not to mention the recruitment radars of several NRL rivals.

Off-contract this year, Welch is putting his MBA studies to good use by negotiating his next deal himself.

So too the advice of Walters, who he has talked with regarding both his footballing future and representative goals.

"I've known Kevvy for a while now, he coached me in under 20s and at Origin," Welch says.

Match Highlights: Storm v Eels

"He's been a good sounding board in those emerging Origin camps particularly on my next step in my career and giving some advice on what he thinks potentially I should do with my contract next year. I'm weighing up the pros and cons, the benefits of everything.

"In 2017 when I did my ACL he still brought me into the 20s Origin camp, he's kept me involved consistently and had me in the fold last year. I got a lot out of that and I really love being in those camps.

"… I'm just trying to put my name in that conversation."

Welch is a realist when it comes to his footballing future, conceding "it's not looking likely" he'll be in the southern capital in 2020.

Melbourne have a host of quality representative forwards that limit what they can offer Welch beyond his existing contract, which does have an option in his favour for next season.

The club hasn't given up hope of retaining the Easts Tigers junior but are yet to table an extended offer.

Every try from Round 9

And Welch is wary of talking too much on his next career move.

"I'm looking at all my options," he said.

"I don't want to be disrespectful to the Storm at the same time and I don't want to keep airing my contract negotiations even though it's not looking likely that I'll be here next year.

"But I just want to focus on my footy. I'm a long way from making a decision but I think I've talked enough about it."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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