Skolar-ly pursuits for A Grade local league duo

Former Souths Logan Magpie fullback Joey Burchell has been handed a 12-month contract for the 2019 season at rising UK club London Skolars.

Alongside the explosive Capalaba Warriors junior, the capital-based club have also signed Beerwah Bulldog and current Greece international Clinton Hughes.

It's not every day that rugby league players from the lower division (in this case, the Rugby League Brisbane competitions) get a chance to travel abroad to continue their careers, however that's what's exactly unfolded for both players at the ambitious Betfred League 1 club.

Using popular rugby league media speak – Burchell has had a "journeyman's career", having spent time in the NRL club system with the Canterbury Bulldogs (Under 20 Holden Cup), as well as spending time with Queensland Intrust Super Cup clubs Wynnum Manly Seagulls, Northern Pride and most recently Souths Logan.

Burchell was also selected for the Queensland Maroons Under 18s State of Origin team in 2014, which was coached by incoming Brisbane Broncos Coach Anthony Seibold.

With the striking custodian in full flight, it's evident Burchell will suit the English style of play with his wide-open running.

"I'm delighted to have joined London Skolars for the 2019 season," Burchell told QRL.com.au.

"I can't wait to join the lads for preseason training and show the English crowds what I have to offer."

Burchell will add some much-needed attack to the Skolars in a side that now has the novelty of big brother London Broncos now back in Super League.

A thrilling 4-2 win over Toronto Wolfpack clinched the title for the Broncos in the Million Pound game in October, which will now create a pathway for aspiring Skolars players.

Joey Burchell in his Queensland Under 18 kit in 2014.
Joey Burchell in his Queensland Under 18 kit in 2014.

Hughes has also been a stalwart in the local Brisbane competition, most notably with bayside club Brighton Roosters. He was also recently a grand finalist with Sunshine Coast club Beerwah Bulldogs.

Although Australian-born, Hughes has featured in five test matches for Greece between 2016 and 2018.

He has vast experience having played in numerous grand finals both in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast A Grade competition and with his invaluable service with Greece, he will certainly add some depth to the club.

"I'm delighted to have joined the Skolars," Hughes said.

"I'm really looking forward to taking this opportunity with both hands and putting on the Skolars jersey for the 2019 season."

The pair have grabbed their opportunity in part thanks to the contribution of Velocity sports player manager Kim Ingebrigtsen (son of former Sunshine Coast Falcons coach Craig).

"Both Joey and "Skip" (Hughes) will carve up over there," Ingebrigtsen said.

"The English crowds won't know what hit them when they both arrive."

"Joey's just a freak, however Skip on the other hand is the type of bloke you want to play alongside.

"He'll give you 110%. He's definitely one of the best dummy halves I've seen going around.

"They'll both go on to bigger and biter things I believe once they get settled."

Interestingly, the Skolars have talented halfback and goalkicker Mike Bishay on their books, who recently played with the Valleys Diehards club in Brisbane.

The Skolars have also had former Norths Devils and Brisbane Broncos development Simona Vavega play a season with them; so there is a real Brisbane-based feel about the club when it comes to signing overseas players.

Both Burchell and Hughes will hit the ground running in 2019 at New River Stadium.