Like a Tiger

FOR whatever reason, Easts always have been well-blessed with hookers. Think John Lang, John Dowling, Shane McNally, Wayne Smith (whose son Cameron is the current Origin hooker), Wayne Marshall, George Gatis and John Driscoll. The 2004 season appears no exception with 24-year-old rake Trent Young making every post a winner, to make use of winter carnival parlance. There's even talk around Langlands Park that Young could earn a City jersey for the clash against Country on Saturday, June 26. There's a bit of irony in that considering Young is country born and bred. Now in his second year at Easts, he spent half of last season in A grade and the remainder in Queensland Cup. But with retirements and the luring of Paul Dezolt to the New Zealand Warriors, Young gained first crack at the No 9 jersey and his busy displays have ensured he is one of the first selected by coach Michael Booth. All this from a boy from Roma in south-western Queensland. The town best known for producing Artie Beetson, most Roma products head to Redcliffe following in the track set by Beetson and the Cherry brothers. "I played with Cities club in Roma and after three seasons with All Whites in Toowoomba, I decided to have a crack at the state league with Souths in 2001," Young said. "There were four or five of us from Roma, including Matt Lockyer, at Souths. They were a couple of hard years at Souths, but it was a good learning experience. It showed you what was required to make it at that level. "We won a couple games in the two years, but mostly we were fighting out the bottom spot with West and Logan." Young said uncertainty surrounding Souths future and the involvement of the Canberra Raiders prompted him to look for another club. "I was looking to going to a stronger club for more exposure," he said. "I put the feelers out and also knew Matty Lockyer was heading to Easts. "John Driscoll had the hooker role but I thought I would try my hand, although it took a while to settle down." Young had played halfback as a junior and his size might have put preconceived ideas in certain minds, but he was playing first grade at 17 and a few kilograms would not hold him back. He was willing to bide his time at Langlands Park behind Dezolt but when the former North Queensland Cowboy headed across the Tasman during pre-season, Young took his chance. A civil designer with a Brisbane engineering firm, Young has not missed a Queensland Cup clash and has stormed away with "three or four" man of the match awards. "I was always ready to compete for the position even if it meant waiting my time," he said. "It's a long season and you never know your luck. "Things are travelling okay with the side and we have always set ourselves a goal of making the semi-finals." The 80 kilogram rake said the main differences between Easts and Souths were a more professional outlook, better facilities and higher quality players. "There's a different culture here and that relates to a better attitude," he said. "We might be equal third now, but we are taking each game as it comes so we are in the right position at the end of the season. "It's a lot closer competition this season with only three points separating six or seven teams. The standard hasn't dropped and there aren't any guarantees of a win. You only have to look at Souths and see how much they have improved." Young, whose team-mate Darren Smith says he has no doubt the hooker could make it in the NRL ranks, has the goal of the City jumper in the back of his mind. "You just have to keep plugging away," he said. "We have to play two of the stronger sides in Redcliffe and Norths away." Young has good words to say about Smith. "He does good things on the field which show his experience," he said. "He is always willing to help and seems to turn up at the right time and takes the right options. "He also gets around and tells players things he has picked up and certain areas where we need to improve." The hooker showed his own class late in the win over Redcliffe when, confronted with the final line of defence, he put in a deft kick for a try to a team-mate.