Exciting young fullback Lachlan Walmsley made the move to Newcastle two years ago from his home town Scone hoping it would lead to an opportunity to crack the big time.
But despite being ultimately shunned by the Newcastle Knights, Walmsley is on the verge of being handed his big break with an NRL club.
The 20-year-old South Newcastle star, an influential figure in the Lions charge to the Newcastle premiership last season, is tipped to sign a deal with South Sydney as early as next week to play in the Rabbitohs NSW Cup side in 2019.
He has also had some interest from the Melbourne Storm and will be in the southern capital as part of a Newcastle Emerging Rebels squad that will play against a Victorian Under 20’s team tomorrow.
There is a possibility the Storm will have scouts at the game but at this stage, Redfern is his more likely destination next season.
“If it all works out, I’ll probably be looking to move down to Sydney in three or four weeks to start the pre-season with Souths’ NSW Cup team,” Walmsley told the Newcastle Herald.
“I’m hoping to finalise it all next week after I get back.
“I want to play footy at the highest possible level I can and obviously, the dream is to play NRL so the higher you play, the more notice you get.
“I’ve got an uncle that lives at Redfern so that is pretty handy and I’ve got some other family further out in Sydney as well to maybe call on.”
Walmsley quit his job as an apprentice roof tiler yesterday in preparation for the move.
“I’ve given two weeks notice. I’ll hopefully look to continue my apprenticeship down there in and around playing footy if I can,” he said.
South Newcastle coach Ben Cross has been the driving force behind getting Walmsley an opportunity at a higher level even though it may impact on his own side’s premiership defence next season.
With Walmsley not having a manager, Cross has selflessly been singing the praises of his fullback to Storm coach Craig Bellamy and Souths coach Anthony Seibold and put together a video highlights package to showcase his talents.
But ultimately, it was his potential that won over the Rabbitohs after Walmsley posted 21 tries for the season and finished a close second to Maitland’s former NRL hooker Adam Clydsdale in the Newcastle player of the year awards.
Walmsley said his Lions coach has shown enormous faith in him.
“Crossy has been a huge influence,”Walmsley said.
“He has been guiding me through and been really influential for me and pushing my barrow and I can’t thank him enough.
“He recommended me and showed video of me playing throughout the year and it’s basically gone from there.
“I’m not 100 percent sure if they [the Rabbitohs] have seen me play live but things started to happen with Souths a week or two after the grandfinal.
“They are an NRL club who have got a massively rich history and they’re a club you want to be at so I’m hoping it all turns out good for me.”
Walmsley said he never lost hope of taking the step up to a higher level, even after he failed to make a go of it at the Knights.
He played for Knights in the S G Ball when he was 18 before finishing the 2016 season by winning the Group 21 first grade premiership with the Scone Thoroughbreds.
For the past two years after moving to Newcastle, he did pre-season training with the Knights Under 20’s side but was unable to established himself in their squad.
Cross said Walmsley “deserves his chance”.
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