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Shippy Steers Way Back Home
TO a rugby league player, a decade is a lifetime.
Mark Shipway will discover time has not stood still when returns to Dolphin Oval next season.
The last time he donned the red and white jersey was in 1996 in a Brisbane grand final against Souths.
The teenage centre had already played in that season's Queensland Cup grand final, carrying a dislocated shoulder, before popping it again in the premiership decider.
Ten years later he has signed with Redcliffe as a hard-hitting backrower who has been with two NRL clubs and a Super League outfit.
"I went from Redcliffe to the Cowboys for five years," he said. "Then it was two years with Manly before two seasons with the Salford City Reds."
At 29, Shipway believes he still has plenty of football left in him and always intended to come home with his Australian bride Jodie, the daughter of former Redcliffe coach John Barber.
"I had still been following Redcliffe's progress on the Internet and had a couple of mates from the Cowboys playing with the club," he said.
"Of course, I had played with James Hinchey and kept in close contact. When it came time to come home to live here, it wasn't a hard decision to sign up.
"Like all footballers, I've had a few little injury problems but the body still feels good."
'Shippy' will find former team-mates scarce at Dolphin Oval, although the indestructible Troy Lindsay shows no signs of weakening.
"The guys I played with were the likes of Hinchey,Wayne Miller, Crusher Cleal,Ricky Hewinson, Robbo and Danny Nutley," he said.
"I know Greg Bourke well from my time at the Cowboys but I can't put any faces to the names who will be at the club next season so it's hard to say how we will go, but we will be training hard in the next couple of months so I'm bound to get a good idea of our prospects.
"I've not seen any games but I know that the Queensland Cup goes from strength to strength especially with the NRL clubs using it as a feeder system."
Shipway needs no introduction to coach Anthony Griffin, who was Redcliffe's development officer during his time with the Dolphins.
Super League clubs are allowed three overseas players and ironically there was a Redcliffe connection to Shipway's departure from Salford.
The Reds swooped on former Dolphin Aaron Moule from the Widnes Vikings, signing the free-scoring centre for two seasons.
"I enjoyed England and it was all a great experience," he said. 'I got to travel around and have a look at the world, but it's good to be back here in a warmer climate."
Shipway also is trying to tie up a new profession after a fulltime playing career.
He has applied for a QRL development officer post, saying he had attended numerous schools and camps during his time with the Cowboys and Manly as well as helping coach an under 16 team at Salford.
"I've never had to apply for a job as my last job was in the office at the Redcliffe Leagues Club," he said. "It's time to get back to a normal life."