Former Tumut Blues forwards, Jacob Sturt and Michael Fenn, have made their respective top-grade debuts in the Queensland Cup and NSW Cup in recent weeks.
Fenn, who is now playing for the North Sydney Bears, the feeder club of the Sydney Roosters, came off the bench in his side’s round two 24-16 victory over the Western Suburbs Magpies before again coming off the bench in round three when the Bears defeated the Rabbitohs 30-12.
The 22-year-old joined the club during the preseason under coach Jason Taylor, and he has worked hard to be a member of a star-studded NRL reserve grade team.
Fenn and the Bears will play the Newtown Jets at North Sydney Oval on Sunday.
Sturt, on the other hand, has moved back to Queensland and plays for the Wynnum Manly Seagulls. He came off the bench in the club’s round two 36-24 victory over the Tweed Seagulls.
The 20-year-old was back home in Tumut this week, with the Seagulls on the bye and after a Covid-19 scare put a temporary halt to the competition.
Sturt admitted that he never thought he would play top grade so early this season, as he is competing with fringe Brisbane Broncos stars.
“It came earlier than I was expecting, as our Broncos affiliate players were pulled out of our team because of the recent Covid cases in Brisbane,” Sturt said.
“My coach Adam Brideson called me around midday on the Saturday before and told me what was going on and that he was going to debut me the next day.”
Sturt, who originally joined Wynnum Manly in 2019, was forced to move back to Tumut and play for the Blues in 2020, when Covid-19 brought an early end to the Queensland Cup competition.
After helping Tumut to a Group 9 grand final appearance last season, Sturt ventured back to Queensland late last year, and was tickled pink when gaining a call-up.
“I’ve been up there since November training with the Queensland Cup squad. I was over the moon mate, I couldn’t believe it,” Sturt said.
“It didn’t really hit me until we were in the sheds pr-game and I had the jersey in my hands. The first person I told was Doogs (Austin McDougall), we live together up there and he was just in the next room when I got the call from the Seagulls and it was awesome.”
Sturt came on late in the contest, and he commented that the Queensland Cup competition was another level compared to anything else he had played prior.
“I didn’t come on until about the 65th minute after they’d scored their last try. It was definitely the fastest and most physical footy I’ve played before,” Sturt said.
Sturt has been named to start in the front row in the Seagulls under 21s side that will take on the Northern Pride in Cairns on Saturday, as he continues to strive for a permanent position in the Wynumm Manly top-grade side, and he wasn’t minding the challenge.
“Obviously, I’ll just see what happens with everything. A big goal for me personally is to play as much Queensland Cup as possible, and then obviously I want to be there playing on grand final day, whether it be with Queensland Cup or with under 21s.”
In added interest, former Gundagai Tigers flyer, Matt Lyons, has been playing on the wing with Wynnum Manly, making his debut in round two and scoring two tries in the process.
The 23-year-old has been named to start on the wing against the Northern Pride on Saturday.