Kangaroo Catcher and Coal Train: Walker's Residents

Each week former Queensland State of Origin strike weapon Chris Walker writes exclusively for QRL.com.au.

 

One of the first names that I hope is read out when the 2018 Queensland Residents side is named is Ipswich Jets entertainer Michael Purcell.

I’m hearing on the grapevine he’s attracted interest from some of the leading NRL clubs, which is mind-blowing when you think he was running around in western comps for Charleville and Mitchell not long over two years ago.

It’s a fantastic story alright – a kid who was fostered and overcame serious illness to become an Outback sensation - but he deserves to be in the Residents team for more than the fairytale aspect.

‘Purcy’ is not as big as Greg Inglis, but I have to say the way he moves and busts the line reminds me a lot of G.I. when he was 18 and 19 playing alongside me at the Melbourne Storm.

You look at his calf muscles and they just scream ‘speed’ to you.

He’s got those long limbs that he sticks out and makes it awkward and unpredictable for defenders.

And here’s the thing with ‘Purcy’ – his instinct and game awareness are close to unparalleled.

Not many players have his speed and agility to start with, but then you add in his ability to pop up in the right position, spot gaps and judge the bounce of the ball.

That makes him a pretty rare commodity in today’s game.

Like I said, G.I. has thickened out a lot after hitting the weights and size will be one thing that deters clubs from looking at Purcell, but he has plenty of traits you just can’t teach.

Right throughout the Intrust Super Cup and NRL, Indigenous players are lighting it up with their uncanny instincts on the field.

I reckon there’s a lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who played a heap of footy with their cousins growing up, and it wouldn’t matter if you were a 10-year-old playing against 15-year-olds – you’d get out there and do your best.

That breeds great competitiveness and accelerates development, and you’re never short of a game if everyone is hanging out together keen to play.

Skim the cream off all our major sporting competitions – all the football codes, athletics, boxing etc – and you find Indigenous people leading the way.

Anyhow I digress. Let’s get back to talking about the prospective Queensland Residents team.

There’s guys like Jake Clifford and Cameron Cullen who have really impressed me with their skills, and Nat Neale, Sam Tagataese and Blake Leary for their leadership and toughness up front.

I’ll throw another one out there that may not be fashionable – Dave Taylor.

It seems everyone is putting the boot into Dave this season, merely because he is a guy who has played for Australia before and now he’s back in Rockhampton.

But he’s more than holding his own and, if we were to judge everyone without preconceived notions, you have to admit he can be dangerous and devastating like few others.

I’ll openly admit I do feel sorry for the bloke and I believe that he has been picked on.

Whatever squad is announced to represent Queensland Residents, it goes without saying that the state will expect them to carry our universal dislike for anything wearing a blue jersey.

New South Wales clubs have been dominant in the last two Intrust Super State Championships, held before the NRL grand final.

The reputation about the quality of our state competition is at stake.

In 2015 when I was part of the Ipswich team that went down for the State Championships, it was drilled into us that we represented the entire Intrust Super Cup, not just our club or ourselves as individuals.

The importance of having a similar mindset cannot be overstated when it comes to the Residents clash.