Jake Turpin will lead a young Brisbane Broncos side – only five with NRL experience – in the club’s first hit out of the year against Souths Logan Magpies in Warwick tomorrow.
The 22-year-old hooker, who starred for Redcliffe Dolphins in the Intrust Super Cup and appeared for the Broncos twice last year, will draw on what he has learnt from two of the games’ best in Cameron Smith and Andrew McCullough.
Turpin said he was looking forward to playing after his first full pre-season since he was 17.
The young gun with start at dummy half; the others with NRL experience are forward Patrick Mago, centre Gehamat Shibasaki, prop Payne Haas, and winger Richie Kennar.
Former NSW under 20s half Troy Dargan will partner Australian Schoolboys halfback Tom Dearden in the halves while Tanah Boyd and Cory Paix will back up from the bench.
“I want to try and get through these trials games as best I can – really put into practice what I have trained over the off season and pre-season,” Turpin, who hails from Haigslea near Ipswich, said.
“I love going out to play on country fields… it reminds me of growing up.”
Turpin said during his time in the game he had been fortunate enough to learn from “some of the best the game has ever seen”, which had helped make him the player he was today.
Turpin left for Melbourne Storm two days after finishing school at Ipswich’s St Edmund’s College.
Despite not playing first grade during his four years there, he captained Storm’s under 20 team and was “honoured” to learn from Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater; he said he was thankful to Storm for “everything they instilled in me”.
“Cameron Smith is a legend,” Turpin told QRL Media, adding “with me, he would help me after training, before training – whenever I needed”.
Now he is working under Queensland Maroons player and good friend McCullough, and he couldn’t be happier – describing the experience as “pretty special”.
“Obviously I’ve got a really good hooker to do my apprenticeship beneath,” Turpin said. “I’m very lucky to have been at two very good clubs.”
Turpin said he felt “a lot more comfortable” in Brisbane - his “second home growing up”, and this year he aimed to play his best wherever he was needed – at Dolphins or Broncos.
“I think if I think too much into it, I might not start playing the best I can, so I’ll let my footy take care of itself,” Turpin, part of the Dolphins’ 2018 grand final-winning side, said.
“Wherever I’m needed to play, I’ll play my best.
“If I go back (to Dolphins), I’ll put my best foot forward.”
Turpin said outside of football, being in Brisbane also allowed him to spend more time with his family, and to watch his three trotters – including the winning Mattgregor.
The horses are trained by Turpin’s older sister Chantal McMullen, and his brother-in-law Pete McMullen drives them; they are one of Queensland’s most successful harness racing couples.
“I love watching my sister do her thing,” Turpin said, adding he tried to get out to the stables as much as he could, and to Albion Park to watch them race.
Video by Harry Lee, QRL Media