REDLANDS Rugby League Club president Todd Flahey says he is excited for the next generation of local footballers after former junior Reece Hoffman became the latest bayside graduate to debut in the NRL.
The 19-year-old, who played for Redlands and Wynnum-Manly, was a late inclusion on the wing for Wests Tigers and crossed for a try as his side went down 18-10 to South Sydney Rabbitohs last Friday.
He is the first Redlands junior to make an NRL appearance since Jake Turpin, who was a regular starter at hooker for the Brisbane Broncos before injury earlier this year.
Hoffman has strong ties to the Redlands, having attended Alexandra Hills State High School and worked as a teacher aide after graduating in 2018.
Flahey said the whole club was proud of him and his selection showed juniors coming through the ranks that there were genuine local pathways to the top level.
- Also read: Alex Hills State High School league players Memphis Theuerkauf and RJ Indelicato on path to stardom
- Also read: Redlands rugby league player Jayden Clarkson selected in under 18 Australian Schoolboys team
- Also read: Big representative season puts Redlands rugby league players and clubs in the spotlight
"Anyone who who wears the jersey has earned their stripes and is part of the family," he said.
"We were proud to see him flying the Redlands flag. He is just another role model for our kids to look up to see that there are genuine pathways in Brisbane rugby league.
"It is an achievement playing one game or a thousand in the NRL. To get a try on debut, he should be extremely proud of himself and his family would be proud of him."
Flahey said the club had heard about Hoffman's inclusion in the Tigers' side just a short while before kick-off.
He was not selected in the initial 17 named earlier in the week and was a late inclusion after fellow boom rookie Tommy Talau was withdrawn with a hamstring complaint.
"We got notice that he was playing that night," Flahey said. "They put the debut up just prior to kick-off.
"As a club we are very proud of him and the I'm sure Wynnum would be as well, seeing one of their juniors go through.
"We are affiliates of Wynnum-Manly Seagulls and that is a testament to Hanan Laban and his team out there who are creating genuine pathways through their affiliations."
Hoffman joined Wests Tigers from Wynnum-Manly on a three year deal ahead of the 2020 season.
A change in protocols allowed him to earn his first NRL appearance on Friday as under pre-coronavirus conditions he would not have been eligible to play until after round 16.
His debut comes on the back of successful appearances in Wynnum-Manly's Mal Meninga Cup and Colts sides.
He has one reserve grade cap and played in the Queensland under 18 team that defeated New South Wales in a one-off State of Origin match last year.
Flahey said there were a number of talented juniors at Redlands and he was excited to see how many first grade players the club would produce in future.
"If a kid is good enough, and they have a great attitude and put in the effort, there is every opportunity that they can play first grade, " he said.
"We had trials on Friday night and the amount of talented kids coming through the system is beyond belief.
"There are so many more Reece Hoffmans coming through. The next five years are going to be amazing for junior sport."
Fellow Redlands junior Jayden Clarkson is also making waves at the Canberra Raiders, having signed at the club in 2019.
Read more local sport news here.