DAVIN Crampton has inked a one-year deal for next year with NRL club Gold Coast Titans, who confirmed the prized capture from Northern Pride yesterday.
The 26-year-old has become the first player from remote cattle town Normanton – nine hours west of Cairns and with a population of 2,000 – into the first-grade system.
The Titans eye Crampton – at home at fullback, wing, centre or in the back-row – primarily as a centre but are fully aware of his gamebusting capabilities as a bench X-factor.
It was a role he enacted brutally as the Pride stormed to the Intrust Super Cup and NRL State Championship titles this season.
Crampton landed on the Gold Coast yesterday, reuniting him with former Cowboys coach Neil Henry and his assistant Terry Matterson. They oversaw Crampton’s development at the Pride, North Queensland’s feeder team.
“I tried to keep it (the signing) a secret from back home for a while,” Crampton said yesterday.
“But I think word got out and it spread pretty quickly.
“They used to be all Cowboys fans there but I think they all jumped onto the Titans now.”
Crampton’s ascent into the NRL ranks, where he will join title-winning Pride colleagues Ben Spina, Shaun Nona, Blake Leary and coach Jason Demetriou, is just reward for his toil.
This is a fairytale footy story that began as far removed as possible from the lights and glamour of the NRL.
“It wasn’t the best competition back at home,” he said.
“It was more about putting on a big shot.
“But I knew if I left I could improve my game.”
Crampton was already the first player from Normanton into the Intrust Super Cup – an opportunity earned after he scored 12 tries in five games for Mount Isa Mid-West in the 2010 Foley Shield.
Pride chief executive Brock Schaefer said: “I don’t think there has been anyone who has worked harder for this opportunity than Davin. It’s an amazing story and what our club is all about.
“He was already the pinup boy for the Normanton Stingers years ago, so it shows how big of an opportunity this is and what it means.”
Crampton appears a good bet to play a major part in the Titans rebuilding next year.
NRL clubs don’t sign 26-year-olds to be fostered out into feeder teams.
“We aren’t entirely sure what to expect but we know he is quality,” Titans football manager Scott Clark said.
“He is a very powerful guy and we think he will have a big impact in our first-grade squad next year.”
Crampton, though, is not banking on anything yet.
“I can’t wait to get into it,” he said.
“I just want to work hard during the pre-season and see where it goes.”