New Cougars players Anthony Hartnell and James Morris arrive at Rockhampton Airport and are ready for the Hyundai QSL season.
New Cougars players Anthony Hartnell and James Morris arrive at Rockhampton Airport and are ready for the Hyundai QSL season. Chris Ison

UK connection boosts Cougars

WELCOME to the Sunshine State, Jamie Morris and Anthony Hartnell.

The two young footballers flew into Rockhampton Airport under leaden skies yesterday, to join up with the Webbers Retravision Capricorn Cougars, only to be given a warm welcome by club officials and a couple of their team-mates.

The pair had flown from the United Kingdom, with just a couple of brief stopovers, and so the weather conditions of Central Queensland were not a major issue.

The two had been playing their football with Aberystwyth Town in the Welsh League, but had been attracted to Capricornia, and the Cougars, by descriptions provided by 2009 Cougars Liam Williams and Tom Evans.

“This is okay,” Morris said.

“It has been terrible back home; we’ve not played for the past six weeks.”

A lot of football in Wales was cancelled because of the severe winter and so a little bit of moisture is not going to worry either of the newcomers.

Morris, a 24-year-old striker, has been in contact with the Cougars for almost a year and so his arrival was greeted with a touch of relief by all parties.

The striker said he had met Williams at University in Wales and had hoped to join him in Rockhampton, but eventually decided to postpone his trip until now.

“I thought I’d give it a go as they spoke of Rockhampton really highly,” he added.

Having spent 22 hours in the air the Welshman only had one slight complaint and that was the loss of a key to his luggage, along the way, by airport security.

Morris said he was not venturing into the unknown by playing in the Hyundai QSL.

“I watched it on YouTube and it’s pretty good, similar to back home,” he said.

Hartnell has played much of his football with the Aberystwyth club, joining its ranks in youth grade and then moving through into senior football.

At 21 years of age, Hartnell will add height to the Cougars central midfield. He admitted he had not had plans to ply his trade overseas until Morris put the idea into his head.

“I just fancied it when Jamie said he was coming to play football here,” he said.

So what is it that Hartnell can add to the Cougars squad?

“I’m not much of a goalscorer,” the young player admitted.

“More into creating them.”

There was little doubt in the mind of Cougars coach Brad Smith about the physical size the two will provide.

Like centre back David Thomas, a friend of the pair, the two players look solid and capable.

“It is coming together, the roster is starting to fill up,” Smith beamed.

There are now 18 in the Cougars squad, of whom about half are from outside Central Queensland, but Smith does not believe the club has changed its values on giving local players their chance to play at a higher level of the game.

“We are still set up, as is the league, to give local guys an opportunity to go further in the game,” he said.

“At this point of time there are not numbers of quality players.

“The next group of under-19s are still too young.

“Our squad of last year had five players who were still eligible to play under-18s.”

Smith said a big advantage could be that some of the players who had come to play football in Rockhampton might decide to stay long-term.



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