Our thanks to Andrew Ferguson for his 2014 piece recounting the story of Edward Larkin, who among ot...
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MORETON Bay has proved an irresistible lure to new Dolphin Alwyn Simpson. The quicksilver back joined the Redcliffe club in the off-season from NSW Premier League club Balmain. Starting on the bench in A grade, he quickly worked his way up and now finds himself on the flank in the top side.
"I'm loving it here. It's a good change from Sydney," said Simpson. "I'm a big fan of the Bay and love living the water and spend as much time as I can down here. "It would be great to get a boat. That's the plan any way. I'm feeling fit and looking forward to the season. "I lived not far from training at Balmain yet it would me 20 to 30 minutes to get there in the traffic. It's too much. I don't really like cities and Brisbane is my limit.
"I arrived late in the pre-season but I'm fitting in and everything is good on the field and off it." From those who have watched Simpson in action in pre-season trials comes this assessment: "He's a classy, smooth runner."
It was those attributes which attracted the Brisbane Broncos to the outside back, signing him to a scholarship from Year 8. Yet another Ipswich product, Simpson played Colts with the Jets as well as a Queensland Cup fixture while still at school.
He turned his back on Queensland as he finished school to join the Canberra Raiders at the end of Year 12, spending the 2002-3 seasons in the national capital. "The day after school finished I was on a plane to Canberra," he said. "I was 17. I would definitely recommend that path to anyone who has the opportunity. "I learnt so much from my time there and with the other NRL teams. Canberra was a small city and cold, but it was a good experience although injuries cut me down and I couldn't get a break."
At 21, Simpson still has youth on his side, although he has been dogged by injuries. "I've had the one major injury and that has been the cause of everything," he said. "I broke my midfoot joint in a freakish accident in a game. The doctors said I was a 50/50 chance to play again." Simpson is no stranger to the Queensland Cup, having spent the 2004 season with Souths Logan as a result of that club's connection with the Raiders.
"Canberra coach Matt Elliott rang me and said he had a young guy with them who had had injuries and whether we could place him," Redcliffe coach Anthony Griffin said. "Matt said he was a talented footballer but just needed a break. He was right as Alwyn had a great season with us and landed a contract with the Wests Tigers organisation for last season."
Things didn't work out totally in Sydney as the Tigers cut all but four of last season's Premier League outfit, leaving Simpson a free agent to find a new club. "We had a great year at Balmain although things did not come together at the end," he said. "But there was no deal on the table and they only kept four players from the team.
"I knew Anthony Griffin from my time at Souths and I put out a feeler to Redcliffe. He actually called me and said the club was interested and we went from there." While Simpson has been named on the wing, he harbours ambitions to play in the centres or fullback, although he has some stiff opposition.
Centres Greg Bourke and Nick Emmett are arguably the club's form players while nimble-footed Ryan Cullen has made the custodian spot his own since he joined from the CQ Comets last season.
"I'm on the wing at the moment and in the top squad. That's where I want to be and everything else can wait," he said. "I've found Redcliffe a very professional club for a Queensland Cup combination. I had always noticed from my contact with them in the past that Redcliffe was like that." Simpson is working at the club as a groundsman, although he is keen to further his career in a development job with either the Queensland Rugby League or ARL.
"I worked for a year with the ARL Foundation in Canberra and it was good fun," he said. "I want to do my coaching levels here and hopefully apply for a development job as I've got a taste for it. I'd even still like to play." Who knows, Simpson may follow the well-worn path put down in recent seasons by Adam Mogg, Phil Graham, Barry Berrigan and Ben Jones and find himself in the NRL ranks again.