Intrust Super Cup fans voted Michael Purcell into a podium finish in a poll for the fastest player in the competition, but he first hit prominence as someone who could stay the distance.
At the age of 17, he was a participant in Robert de Castella's Marathon Project, an initiative which gave Indigenous youth the opportunity to gain life skills and experience high quality training, but since choosing football, he has made a name for himself as a speedster.
The former Gracemere Cubs junior has moved from Ipswich Jets to Easts Tigers and is itching for the season to start.
“I just want to play consistent footy, just try and score heaps of tries again hopefully,” Purcell laughed when speaking at the club’s pre-season photoshoot.
“It’s different, it’s a different feeling, I am not really used to it, I never thought I would see myself in an Easts Tigers outfit, but this is what’s best for me and this is where it is at.
“(I was after) a fresh start coming here... new boys, new friendships and it’s a lot closer to home as well.
“Like I said, it was the best thing for me overall and everything pointed back down into that.
“I wanted to really challenge myself and I had really good support around me with my partner, friends and family, which gave me that extra drive to really want to get further in my footy career hopefully.”
A fan favourite in the competition, who caught the attention of league watchers during his representative stints with the Queensland Outback team, Purcell’s turn of speed saw him bamboozle defences when he played under the distinctive style of the Jets.
Now, the player dubbed 'the kangaroo catcher' is working on learning a new way to play – and he said he had more players around him that could keep up with him.
“Just getting back into the structure of footy, honestly,” Purcell said of his current focus.
“Knowing that boys are going to be in their places where I am going to run, they are going to be there if I am going to offload or whatever and not just hope that someone is going to be there.
“I think coming here, there’s a few boys that really shocked me, like Crofty, Zac (Croft) has really shocked me.
“He first said that he was a winger and I was like, ‘yeah, you are not a winger, I don’t know if you can even run fast’, but I think he outran Porty (Linc Port) at one stage, so I was like, ‘ey, you could be a winger!’
“It’s good to have other boys outside like Porty and Crofty with speed as well that can keep up and I can rely on them to be there and whatnot in support.”
Match: Tigers v Capras
Round 1 -
Venue: Totally Workwear Stadium, Brisbane
The talented fullback, who fought a life-threatening kidney disease as a youngster where he spent six weeks in the dialysis ward, has a positive outlook for the future, and like all players at the start of a new season, is excited at the prospect of a successful year.
“My end-of-the-year goal I suppose is obviously to win a premiership, I think there’s a good chance, that’s why I came to the club and I can really see that at this club going by their history, they are a finals club, they are consistent,” Purcell said.
“I think every team wants to win. The coaches have always said throughout the pre-season, the ultimate goal and why we are training so hard is to win the premiership, and they believe in the blokes that we have got in the team can do that, and I really think we can too.
“Round 1, I am keen, can’t wait to rip in and get the year under way!”
Easts Tigers gains and losses
Jayden Berrell (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Sam Elliot (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Linc Port (Souths Logan Magpies), Michael Purcell (Ipswich Jets), Samuel Collins (Norths Devils), Caleb Daunt (Sunshine Coast Falcons), James Waterson (Auckland Rugby League), Kurt Baptise (North Queensland Cowboys)
Jake Foster (retired), Jarrod McInally (retired), Shane Neumann (retired), John Puna (retired), Sam Lavea (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Chris Ostwald (Northern Pride), Josh Fauid (Carina), Keenan Yorston (Ipswch Jets), Tyrone Amey (Newcastle), Matt Cooper (Newcastle), Josh Ralph (released), Tom Hughes (released)
2020 gains and losses
- Ipswich Jets
- Townsville Blackhawks
- Redcliffe Dolphins
- PNG Hunters
- Wynnum Manly Seagulls
- Norths Devils
- Souths Logan Magpies
- Burleigh Bears
- Sunshine Coast Falcons
- Tweed Seagulls