On the eve of his 200th Queensland Intrust Super Cup game this Saturday against the Townsville Blackhawks at Langlands Park, Easts Tigers centre Shane Neumann has announced that this season will be his last in the Intrust Super Cup.
Neumann will become only the 18th player to reach the 200-game milestone after playing for the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles as well as the Tigers over his decorated and extensive career.
Match: Tigers v Blackhawks
Round 23 -
Venue: Langlands Park, Brisbane
Reaching such a milestone is an incredible achievement for a player who, after spending stints in the NRL system, has managed to juggle a fulltime job as well as footy in recent years.
Growing up as a local Brisbane boy, Neumann had a rapid rise through the ranks, which saw him play in the Queensland Cup competition at the age of 18, before then being signed by the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
Despite playing five-eighth during junior days, Neumann quickly made a name for himself as a damaging centre and debuted for the Sea Eagles during the 2007 season.
When not playing for the NRL side, Neumann would play in Manly’s feeder clubs where he won a premiership with the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles in 2009 – scoring a hat-trick in the final.
“Manly’s first year being associated with Sunshine Coast started in 2009 and just like Melbourne are doing with Easts at the moment, if you didn’t play NRL that weekend, you’d fly up and play for them” Neumann said.
“In our first year, we were able to win the comp which was fantastic.”
After making the switch to the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2010, Neumann managed to play a string of NRL games that year, before then going on to win yet another premiership with the Bulldogs feeder club only 12 months after his success with Sunshine Coast.
“I actually went to the Bulldogs and won a premiership there, so I was lucky enough to win back to back premierships - firstly with Sunny coast and then with the Bulldogs,” Neumann said.
“Playing NRL is every kid’s dream growing up, so I’m pretty proud to say that I achieved that.”
After stints in the NRL, the former Sunny Bank High School student then went on to forge a long and successful career playing in the Intrust Super Cup in recent years.
Neumann acknowledged just how the game has continued to evolve and how players must continue to work hard both on and off the field to perform at such a high level each week.
“As I have gotten more experienced, I have certainly had to play a bit smarter when defending some of these young guys, I have to watch their footwork and speed and watch a bit more video,” Neumann said.
The 32-year old has learnt to embrace the responsibility that comes with being a more senior figure both off and on the field and has actively attempted to mentor and play a role in helping young players come through the system.
“With all the young blokes talking with NRL clubs, it’s been great being able to help them out by talking to them about what to expect, as well as what the experience is going to be like,” Neumann said.
“I certainly talk more in the team and will be a bit more vocal at training and games and things like that.”
Looking back on a career that spanned just over 10 years, Neumann credited all those who have helped him along his journey; especially his dad, who not only supported him throughout juniors but, also rode every high and low with him over the years.
“My dad has been a massive support for me,” Neumann said. “As well as taking me to all my trainings and games as a kid, he has barely missed a game really.
“He flew down for my NRL debut, and he will only miss games if we are travelling to Cairns or Townsville or something like that, but he’ll still drive down to Tweed or Sunshine Coast,” Neumann said.
“My partner Catherine has been amazing. It is tough for any partner of a footy player, with all the travel that goes on, but she has been really understanding and supportive the whole way.”
As for the future, after recently announcing that this 2019 season will be his last, Neumann is keen to take a break from the daily grind of rugby league in order to spend some much-needed time with his family and fiancé.
“I think the body could probably go round another year or two, but I am really looking forward to spending some time off with Catherine and get settled for our wedding which is taking place later this year,” Neumann said.
For now, however, Neumann’s focus is purely on helping his side recover from a recent dip in form in order to go deep in the finals this year.
“Last year we managed to go on a winning run right until the final, so I certainly think we can do it again this year and we have just got to get out this patch … but I think if we are on, we can beat anyone in the comp,” Neumann said.
“It’s certainly a close comp but I think if we play well then we can definitely go all the way.”