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Laybutt in action. Photo: Alix Sweeney/QRL

Kyle Laybutt wants to keep rewriting the history books with the Townsville Blackhawks.

In today’s clash against the Northern Pride in Cairns, 28-year-old Laybutt will become the first player to rack up 100 games with the Blackhawks, in what is their 10th year in the Hostplus Cup.

Reaching game 120 overall, the Townsville captain has gone away from the club twice – once because the North Queensland Cowboys reassigned him to Mackay and once because he chased another opportunity elsewhere, at the Sunshine Coast Falcons.

But on both occasions the Bundaberg product has found his way back to the Blackhawks, taking him to this historic milestone this weekend.

“You don’t play footy for milestones but it is pretty cool to achieve,” Laybutt said.

“It’s a nice feeling to know that you’re wanted at one club for 100 games.

“The Blackhawks is where I started my career in Cup. They gave me my first opportunity back when Kristian Woolf was coach.

“From the moment I’ve been there, it’s been a big family club. There’s a great culture from the top to the bottom and everyone is super welcoming. It’s just like a family now to me.”

Laybutt in action. Photo: Alix Sweeney/QRL
Laybutt in action. Photo: Alix Sweeney/QRL

So strong is Laybutt’s love for the Blackhawks, he wants to keep adding to the accolades, both individually and as a group.

He wants to help them claim their first premiership. He wants to notch up milestone after milestone. And he wants to leave a lasting legacy.

“It is special,” Laybutt said of being the first player to reach 100 games for the club.

“We’ve only been in the competition for 10 years but we’re trying to build a legacy.

“I want to play another 100 more for the Blackhawks. I want to finish my career here and win a title too. I am really honoured and happy to do it at such a great club.”

Laybutt lists his career highlights as the Blackhawks’ 2019 season, his time in Queensland Residents and getting to play alongside his brother, Zac.

Outside of Cup, he has also played in the NRL with the Cowboys and represented Papua New Guinea on the international stage.

He said over this time, his biggest influences have been his Blackhawks coaches, including Woolf and Aaron Payne, as well as some of the club’s former players.

“Having Kristian at the start of my time with the Blackhawks, he taught me how to be a bit more professional,” Laybutt said.

“I hadn’t been exposed to that level of professionalism before and he demanded perfection.

“Payney was a different type of coach and also a mate, but he got a lot out of me as well.

“I started in Cup with the likes of Anthony Mitchell and Michael Parker-Walshe and Jahrome Hughes.

“We had some pretty awesome players that have been around and they helped me mature and develop my football every week, so it was cool to start my Cup career with those people.”

This year, Laybutt is under the tutelage of former Canberra Raiders sensation Terry Campese, who is in charge of his first Cup club.

As they head into today’s XXXX Rivalry Round clash with the second-placed Northern Pride, the Blackhawks sit just outside the top eight, separated only by their points differential.

With nine weeks remaining before finals and a logjam through the middle of the table, the Blackhawks will look to push up the ladder over the coming weeks, starting with today’s clash in Cairns.

For Laybutt, he believes the team are hitting form at the right time and have the potential to push top teams like the Pride and next week’s opposition in the competition-leading Norths Devils. They will follow this up with the Western Clydesdales before meeting the Burleigh Bears in Round 18.

As he chases his premiership goals, Laybutt hopes to show the Blackhawks are serious contenders over the next month.

“It took us a while to figure out how we wanted to play and the type of team we wanted to be,” he said.

“It definitely took a few weeks and there were some teething problems. But in the last month or so especially, we’ve started to find our identity and play some decent footy and we’re getting some wins.

“We just need to keep doing that now. We have a tough run coming up against the likes of Pride and Burleigh, but we get to test out how we’re tracking leading into finals.”

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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