Souths coach Ben Cross is confident in-form Lions fullback Lachlan Walmsley can take his career to the next level beyond the current Newcastle Rugby League finals series.
Cross said he has been in touch with at least two major clubs and reckons Walmsley, a former Newcastle Knights under-18 representative, could handle any step up in grade from 2019 whether that be NSW/Queensland Cup or eventually NRL.
It comes as the 20-year-old Merriwa native, the competition’s leading try scorer this year with 17 in the regular rounds, extended his streak to 18 from nine straight appearances with a hat-trick in Sunday’s 46-12 qualifying semi-final win over Central at St John Oval.
“Most definitely he can kick on,” Cross told the Newcastle Herald.
“I’ve been in contact with Craig Bellamy at Melbourne … and Anthony Seibold at South Sydney. But we’ll just have to wait until this season has finished.
“Hopefully there’s still a bit more he can add to his highlights reel … and hopefully there’s possible opportunities out there somewhere.”
Cross said Walmsley, an apprentice roof tiler who now lives at Shortland, has benefited from playing first grade in 2017 and 2018.
“He’ll be better for it,” the second-year Lions mentor said. “Playing against quality opponents and playing against men, rather than his own age group.”
Walmsley’s kick-chase ability was well and truly on display on the weekend, with all three tries coming from the boot of Souths five-eighth Ryan Glanville.
“It’s no accident because he works hard at it,” Cross said. “It can be a forgotten skill in rugby league.
“You’ve got to put yourself in the right positions for anything to happen in the first place and he does that more often than not.”
Cross is hopeful Walmsley can continue his try-scoring streak in Sunday’s major semi-final at Cahill Oval, but knows minor premiers Lakes will be keeping a close eye on the No.1 jersey.
“Lakes did a pretty good job on him last time,” Cross said. “But it’s not too often he stays down in back-to-back games. And we have a few other good players who can come into their own as well.”
In the minor semi-final Central visit the Bulldogs at Kurri on Saturday. Maitland were eliminated on the weekend.
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