They play the same position yet Andrew McCullough’s status as Brisbane’s first-choice hooker was a key reason in Jake Turpin recommitting to the Broncos rather than taking up opportunities at rival NRL clubs.
Turpin agreed to terms on a new three-year deal at the Broncos, less than 12 months after being elevated into the Broncos’ top 30 and since establishing himself as one of the barometers of Brisbane’s energy and enthusiasm.
Currently filling in the role as the side’s halfback with Tom Dearden again unavailable to face the Cowboys on Thursday night, Turpin’s long-term future is likely to be in the No.9 jersey that has been McCullough’s almost exclusively for the past decade.
Rather than plotting to unseat one of the club’s most loyal servants, Turpin unveiled on Tuesday his plan to further his education under McCullough until he can step into the position on a permanent basis.
“I really wanted to stay at the Broncs, we just had to sort some stuff out and I'm just really happy that I’m here for the next three years,” said Turpin, who has quickly become a cult hero at Red Hill with his tenacious playing style and trademark haircut.
“My family was a big reason why I stayed and another big reason is that I’ve got Andrew McCullough here who I can still learn from.
“I’m only 22 years old. I’m still only pretty young and hopefully I’ve got a long career.
“I’m very happy learning everything off ‘Macca’. He’s a very good player so that was another reason why I stayed, so I can learn off him.”
Less than two months ago Turpin was touted for a one-year deal at Brisbane but his continued strong performances attracted the interest of rival NRL clubs and forced the Broncos to upgrade their offer.
Born in Brisbane, Turpin played some of his junior football for Ipswich Brothers where he was signed by the Melbourne Storm, playing 43 NYC games from 2014-2016.
McCullough’s Queensland Origin selection paved the way for Turpin to make his NRL debut in round 17 last season and he has since gone about winning the trust of his teammates for the way he plays above his relatively diminutive stature.
“We call him the ‘Pitbull’,” said back-rower Alex Glenn who will line up in the centres against North Queensland.
“Everyone likes the aggressiveness that he brings to our side.
“You saw the shot that he put on [Cameron] Munster on the weekend, that’s just Turps.
“He’s a tough bloke. He’s not the biggest guy on the field but he won’t back down from a challenge.
“He puts his body on the line and that’s what you want in your team.”
Admitting that his elevation to becoming an integral member of Brisbane’s 17 has been a quick one, Turpin said that he was determined when he was given an opportunity in the top grade not to let it go to waste.
“I set myself goals all year,” said Turpin, who has played 11 games this season since coming into the side in round nine.
“I wanted to get into the top 30 and I achieved that and then I wanted to play regular first grade this year and I’ve achieved that.
“I said earlier in the year that if I get the opportunity that I’m not going to look back, I’m going to take it and take it with both hands.
“I’ve done that and that’s put me in the position that I’m in now.”