Young Yeppoon footballer's shock international call-up
RUGBY LEAGUE: Ryan Flintham will get his first taste of international football this weekend - just two months after celebrating his 18th birthday.
The Yeppoon Seagulls' star halfback will turn out for the Malta Knights in a second-tier Test match against Hungary at Cabramatta's New Era Stadium tonight.
After a stellar 2017 season with the Seagulls and the CQ Capras under-20s, Flintham was not expecting to play any more footy this year - but he's now preparing for the biggest game of his career.
"I'm pretty stoked. The thought of playing a Test match is really exciting," he said.
"This is a great opportunity for me.
"I'm not exactly sure where they are thinking to play me but I just hope that when I get on the field I can make as big an impact as possible.
"I want to make the most of it because you never know who could be watching."
Flintham qualifies for Malta through his paternal grandmother's heritage.
"When I first started with the CQ Capras a few years ago, I had to write down all my family information, including my grandparents' birthplaces, my parents and my own," he said.
"It was probably halfway through the year that someone from the Malta team rang me saying they were having a couple of games later in the year and asking if I was interested.
"I said I was and then a few weeks ago I got another call, asking for my birth certificate to prove nanna's heritage.
"Even when they called the second time, I didn't think anything would come of it but now I'm off to Sydney to play in a Test match."
The Malta selection caps what has been a breakout season for Flintham.
He was player of the carnival at the QRL Central Division 47th Battalion under-20 carnival, scored a hat-trick in his first run-on game for the Seagulls A-grade side, was man of the match in the Seagulls' under-20s grand final victory and has been recruited for the CQ Capras open squad.
A star on the rise, Flintham has some clear goals, the ultimate being to one day play in the NRL.
"I want to keep chipping away and hopefully crack the Intrust Super Cup in the next year or two," he said.
"If I can stay consistent, who knows where I can end up."
Yeppoon Seagulls A-grade coach Scott Minto is excited for his young charge, who he said had the makings of a champion.
"He's got good skills and a good head on his shoulders but probably the biggest thing is he plays more direct than most halves I've seen," he said.
"He's had a cracking year and he's got a massive future in the game if he wants to grab it and run with it."