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Welch: My top five under the radar tough Queenslanders

Queensland Maroons star Christian Welch is passionate, is team-first and loves nothing more than running out in a Maroons jersey at Suncorp Stadium.

Welch, FOG #202, who has played six State of Origin games between 2019 and 2021, is sidelined this year after rupturing is Achilles in Round 1 of the NRL.

The gun forward said he was thrilled with the Queensland-eligible talent around and wanted to highlight five Queenslanders he thought went largely under the radar when it came to their toughness. 

"Some of these guys aren't completely under the radar, but I think how tough they are certainly is," Welch said.

"I'm excited for the future of the Maroons."

Welchy's top five under the radar tough Queenslanders

1. Kobe Hetherington - Brisbane Broncos

"I really like Kobe Hetherington as a player. He's quite a good ball player, but he's also quite physical and he's got good leg speed. I think he's a really nice compliment to the forward pack the Broncos have in some of the big boys in Keenan Palasia and Payne Haas. Obviously Pat Carrigan and him play that bit of a connecting role between the edges and the middle unit. I think he's got a good work ethic, good work rate, he's tough and I think that's what suits Queensland and State of Origin. He comes from tough roots too with his dad being Jason Hetherington."

Kobe Hetherington playing for the Broncos. Photo: NRL Imagery
Kobe Hetherington playing for the Broncos. Photo: NRL Imagery

2. Lindsay Collins - Sydney Roosters

"Lindsay Collins is probably not fully under the radar... he has played Origin and is a starting player for the Roosters, one of the best teams in the comp, but I just really like him as a player. I've known him for a while... my mum actually taught him at Padua in Brisbane, so we go back a fair bit. As a front rower, I really respect the way he goes about his business. He's kind of a 'no frills, really tough, a team-first' player and he has come back really well from his ACL. Obviously would've been great to have him last year for that Origin series, where we struggled a bit, but I'm sure he'll be back in the fold this year. He's really important. Waerea-Hargreaves and Taukeiaho draw a lot of the media attention, but Lindsay just goes about his business and does his role every week, which I think, knowing Billy Slater quite well, the consistency of his performances will be really attractive to that Maroons side. A lot of physicality, tough, aggressive... the type of guy you love playing with."

Collins: 'I enjoy the toughness of the game'

3. Sam Walker - Sydney Roosters

"We played a bit of golf in the off-season with Kurt Capewell. It's so depressing when you're a 110-kilogram front rower and this little whippersnapper halfback is hitting his drive 30 metres past your ball. It's really emasculating, but I really like Sam. He's a really tough competitor. He doesn't weigh much, and obviously he's working on building out his physicality, but he's tough as nails. Takes a lot of hits. I cleaned him up last year in Newcastle on a kick pressure and knocked him about. Their coach wasn't too happy but Sam just got up and kept playing. It was a tough night that night, we had a pretty good win that night, but he kept trying. One of the biggest things as a halfback is having a toughness to play deep into the line. By playing deep into the line, the defensive side is under the most pressure because on the edges they have to make split second decisions and if he starts playing early, it's easier to get a read on the shape. So, what comes with that is you're going to get hit sometimes by some of the big boys on the field. And I think Sam accepts that is part of his job and he's very tough. Also, his skill, his pace and all the other parts of his game - the attacking side of his game, I think everyone acknowledges that, but I don't think people understand how resilient and tough he is. He's obviously in a great system at Roosters and has mentors there like Cooper Cronk, one of our finest halfbacks, so I think it's exciting seeing him develop and progress and I'm sure he'll be in the Origin arena pretty soon."

Sam Walker. Photo: NRL Imagery
Sam Walker. Photo: NRL Imagery

4. Trent Loiero - Melbourne Storm

"Trent is my next door neighbour in the locker room. He's a good fella who really works hard. He hails from the Sunshine Coast. His application in pre-season and down in Melbourne is good. It's very, very tough down there and he's just tough. You know what you're going to get from him. He's all effort, and team-first with his actions, which I think really translates well into the Origin arena. That's the kind of guys you want to play with. He's more of a backrower but he's been doing a great job this year for us off the bench, running through the middle, which is not easy for a young guy. He's 21. The physicality required in the middle... I know he works hard on building out and working hard on his diet and extra gym sessions, so he's physically ready to take the opposition on, and he's got a lot of skill. Been working with him closely on how to ignite and get momentum and build quick play the balls into his game. He's got a great physique - a tall rangy fella and I think he's already about 106 to 108 kilograms. Obviously we're losing both of our starting backrowers next year in Kenny Bromwich and Fus, Felise Kaufusi, to Redcliffe, and I think Trent will be putting his hand up to take one of those spots. I think everyone at the Storm trusts him and we're really excited about his future. He is a bit of a hot head sometimes... full of passion. I love riling him up and I get him to bite all the time. He's really passionate about the team and his teammates, representing them well and also the club, and going out and giving his all. He's from a great family. His old boy Geno actually stayed out longer than he did when he had his debut. He went home, and Geno and I had some beers."

Trent Loiero. Photo: NRL Imagery
Trent Loiero. Photo: NRL Imagery

5. Ethan Bullemor - Manly Sea Eagles

"I really like Ethan Bullemor as a player. I think he's got great leg speed and is really difficult to handle. He's really physical and I think Manly have picked up a really nice player there. I think it's probably been a bit tough in Brisbane for the last few years with a lot of really good back row players. Finding those minutes and consistency has probably been a bit tough. I think Manly have picked up a really good player and I think he's a smart guy as well, understands the game really well and I think he's highly underrated. Back row is a tough position where a lot of media attention goes on the flashy big plays, and I think what Bull seems to do well, in my opinion, is all the little effort areas to help his edge. He's a very good defender. He protects his half. He does all the team-first actions that go largely unrewarded externally but I know they'd be appreciated a fair bit at Manly. I think he's a nice pick up."

Ethan Bullemor. Photo: NRL Imagery
Ethan Bullemor. Photo: NRL Imagery

 

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