NORTHERN Pride has once again proven itself as a club capable of developing NRL-calibre talent after fullback Hezron Murgha today signed a two-year NRL contract with the North Queensland Cowboys.
Murgha, who has had an outstanding season in 2013 with 13 tries in 15 games, will join the Cowboys ahead of the 2014 season and take part in his first NRL pre-season starting in November.
He makes history as the first local player to come through the Cairns District Rugby League into the Pride system, and then land a place in the Cowboys NRL squad through the two clubs feeder relationship.
The 27-year-old former Yarrabah Seahawk joins Ethan Lowe and Joel Riethmuller as players to be snapped up by the Cowboys following stellar form for the Barlow Park club in the Intrust Super Cup.
Northern Pride Chief Executive Officer Brock Schaefer said Murghas contract with the Cowboys was yet another example of the pathways the Pride creates for its players.
No other sport or club in North Queensland can show the pathway the Pride creates for players and coaches from the region, Schaefer said.
This is just another great example of the opportunities we create for people within our great club, and once again proves you dont have to leave Cairns and Far North Queensland to earn a crack at the big time.
Hezzy was someone who wasnt picked up as a kid, but through the Pride system has been able to develop his game to deservedly now land a full NRL contract with the Cowboys.
Hes a great role model for local players, especially local Indigenous players, and shows the fantastic pathway that exists for local guys if they are committed to staying and developing locally, then playing for their local NRL club.
Schaefer said it was another great outcome for the Intrust Super Cup club, which includes:
Pride Academy youngsters being selected by Queensland across a range of age groups.
Pride players currently in the North Queensland Cowboys U20s side.
Riethmuller, Lowe and a number of other locals in NRL squads.
Former NRL stars in their current Intrust Super Cup squad.
We continually show that were all about creating opportunities for promising locals and we have the evidence to back it up, he said.
Hezzys a dynamic runner and excellent support player who has been in electrifying form this season for us, and we fully expect him to be in strong contention for a Queensland Residents berth this month.
North Queensland Cowboys General Manager (Football) Peter Parr said Murghas signing is a great story of someone who has persevered with his rugby league career and has now been offered an NRL contract.
Hes another example that just because you dont make it as a young footballer, it doesnt mean your dreams are finished, Parr said.
Hes kept at it, been part of a fine set-up at the Pride which has helped to develop his game, and now can take his skills to the next level.
Murgha, who has played 68 matches and scored 35 tries for the Northern Pride, is not the first older age Pride player to step up to the NRL squad with North Queensland.
Back-rower Riethmuller made his debut as a 26-year-old in 2011 and has now made 17 NRL appearances to go with more than 100 Intrust Super Cup matches.