Central Queensalnd pair hope to tackle the rigours of NRL
THEY'VE travelled very different paths, but Kieran Duffin and Dan Russell are determined to reach the same destination - rugby league's big time, the National Rugby League.
Emmaus College graduate Duffin set off for the state capital yesterday to join the Brisbane Broncos, taking his first steps towards an NRL dream with the club he first joined as a 12-year-old.
Emerald-raised Russell trialled for the Central Queensland Capras under-16 team in 2011, impressing Capras coach and Broncos scout Stephen Parle, and will venture to Brisbane on Sunday ahead of the pair's first day at work on Monday.
Such is the commitment of the pair, and the six other Central Queenslanders who are off to join NRL clubs in 2014, there was no time for the typical end-of-school celebrations.
Gladstone State High's Bill Cullen left for Townsville on Friday afternoon directly after graduation, while Queensland Schoolboys halfback Cooper Bambling joined him at the Cowboys on the weekend.
Russell said he would live with his Brisbane-based mum, Maxine, at Kangaroo Point, while Duffin was joined by girlfriend, Dana Hayes, on the journey south, filled with mixed emotions.
"It's sad to leave my family because we are so close, but it's exciting to start this new chapter of my life," said Duffin, who will study exercise physiology at QUT next year.
"It will be a challenge (living out of home). Mum has been trying but I don't know if it'll get through.
"There's a lot to learn, but I've got Dana there and still got the support of my family no matter where I am."
While they've still got three seasons in the Holden Cup under-20 competition ahead of them, Duffin and Russell were determined to don a Broncos jersey in 2014.
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to put on a Broncos jersey. My goal is to play 20s next year," Duffin said.
Russell, who will start an apprenticeship as a diesel fitter in the New Year, added: "I hope to get a few games in the NYC - that'd be good.
"I'm signed with Norths Devils so hopefully I can play really good footy with them and then I'll have another good preseason and get a regular spot in the 20s the year after."
CQ's 2014 rugby league exports
Kieran Duffin, Dan Russell, Sheldon Bobbert
North Queensland Cowboys
Sam Smith, Bill Cullen, Cooper Bambling, Yamba Bowie