Ricky Stuart, Wendell Sailor, Ray Price, Karmichael Hunt, Willie Carne, Mat Rogers: all household names of players that have managed to successfully straddle the line between multiple professional footy codes.
But there’s another name that may very soon be added to that list if he keeps killing it the way he’s been doing … and that’s Macksville High’s Blake Howle.
The massively talented 16-year-old has a huge month ahead of him after being selected for both the Greater Northern team of the NSW Combined High Schools (CHS) Rugby League U18s and the CHS Rugby Union North Coast Opens team.
The tournaments both play out at the end on this month, with only days separating the two.
Macksville Swampies (Union) coach Mick Baines is incredibly proud of his star student after being notified of his selection after the recent trials at Macksville.
“I think he’s got there because he’s put a lot of hard work in – it was most deserved,” Mick said.
“But it’ll be tough – the union championships are for a spot in the NSW side, so he’ll be up against all these big Islander boys from Sydney.”
Macksville Mantas (League) coach Nathan White agrees that Blake has earned his selection, after going through four separate rounds of selection processes to be headhunted for the Greater Northern team.
“To get to Coffs [the final round of selection] you’ve got to be exceptional,” he said.
“Blake is hard-working, committed, a great listener and a team player.
It’s a credit to him that he’s made both codes – most kids at this age would have decided one way or the other.
During both comps, around a dozen selectors will be keeping an eagle eye on players to pick for the NSW sides.
And behind the scenes, both NRL and Super Rugby scouts will be there to watch the cream rise to the top.
“We’ve already gotten a few nibbles,” Dad Wayne Howle said.
And it’s not hard to see why: Blake not only has the talent – he also has the whole package. And in the world of professional footy, attitude counts for a lot these days.
“During the trials my defence was dominant, and I ran hard and straight. I just ripped in and kept on my toes constantly,” Blake said.
“But I was also doing what I could to lift everyone – clapping my hands and being positive out there with the boys, offloading and doing anything to keep the game moving.”
Despite the early interest in the young front-rower, he said he’s still keeping his options open.
“I’m not quite sure where I want to head. I’m still just focussing on school. Uni is still a big option for the future. But if the chance came up to play professionally for either sport, I’d take it,” Blake said.
He’s currently enrolled in the HeadStart program at Southern Cross University and is undertaking a preliminary Biology unit in order to bolster his academic prospects.
Mum, Lynette, is incredibly proud of her son and thinks he might have a professional future ahead of him, but is also keen to keep him grounded in his schoolwork.
It’s hard when you live in a little town – to dream that far. You’re always questioning if you have enough talent.Lynette Howle
Blake said both his parents are huge guiding lights in his life.
“My parents are very influential; they want me to succeed and have always told me that if you want it, it’s out there,” he said.
But he also credits Macksville High sports teacher Mr Scott Stacy for the sway he’s had in his life.
“He’s a great mentor for any young man. I’ve learnt how to grow up to be a gentleman around women and just generally in life,” Blake said.
Wherever this journey leads, the thing that’s clear is that Blake Howle is destined to have a bright future.