Burleigh Bears halfback Jamal Fogarty confirmed beyond doubt in the Intrust Super Cup finals series that he has the makings of a fine NRL player.
The 25-year-old had proven it all season on his way to winning the Petero Civoniceva Medal for best player in the competition.
There are several clubs, including the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans, who could benefit from a reliable and natural half that can manage a game from start to finish, and they should look no further than Fogarty. Finals are where the big game players stand up and Fogarty certainly did that.
His masterful kicking game in the Bears' win over the Falcons in the grand final qualifier was all class in itself, but Fogarty took it to another level in the decider against Wynnum Manly in Burleigh’s 28-10 victory.
The Seagulls trailed 12-10 early in the second half and had momentum and a strong wind at their backs. The game was on a knife's edge but that is exactly when Fogarty took control. If Wynnum were to take control in the second half then the main danger was always going to come from fullback Edene Gebbie collecting a kick at pace and with space.
Fogarty, well aware of that threat, placed his kicks to perfection into the corners and away from Gebbie to allow the Burleigh defence to get there in numbers and deny the fullback any time to get going.
The skill required to do that into a fierce breeze was immense but Fogarty was immaculate with all of his kicks.
Like all quality halves, Fogarty has the class to set tries up and to score them himself.
The try he created for Kurtis Rowe in the first half is worthy of consideration because it encapsulates why Fogarty is so good. On the last tackle he went himself and appeared to be hemmed in by the defence. In response he put through a perfectly weighted grubber, once again hard to do with the wind at his back on this occasion. On regathering Fogarty drew the defence and threw an inch perfect pass for Rowe to score.
Duncan Hall Medallist: Kurtis Rowe
Later on Fogarty scooped up a Wynnum kick and raced 80 metres to score and seal the win.
When you watch Fogarty for a while he starts to remind you of former Gold Coast Titans half Scott Prince. Like Prince, he is light and nimble on his feet and deceptively fleet of foot when he takes on the line. A history playing touch football and Oz Tag has no doubt added to Fogarty's game sense and instinct.
He did play under 20s for the Titans and spent time at the Parramatta Eels in 2017 before returning to the Gold Coast for family reasons, the same year he was then signed mid-season by the Titans and played two NRL games. His return to that arena surely is no too far away. Another big game in the NRL State Championship in Sydney against Newtown on Sunday will only enhance his case.
Match: Jets v Bears
NRL State Championship -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Fogarty is a level headed and intelligent individual off the field. He earns a living as a youth worker who assists disadvantaged young people who have fallen on hard times to get their lives back on track. He would be a great asset to any NRL club away from the football field as much as on it.
Fogarty said recently that he was determined to keep working hard on his game until the rugby league gods decided to tap him on the shoulder to welcome him back to the NRL. That time has surely arrived.