NRL dream alive for rejuvinated Blackhawk
CARLIN Anderson refuses to give up on his dream of a start in the NRL.
And he believes Blackhawks coach Aaron Payne could hold the key to unlocking an opportunity.
After joining the Townsville club, 2020 is set to be a year of redemption for the former Cowboy.
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A tumultuous 2019 season with the Mackay Cutters came with its setbacks - a devastating injury shook his confidence and led to positional switches. It eventuated in his contract with the North Queensland Cowboys not being renewed.
But on his return to the Blackhawks, Anderson's confidence has been restored and he is fighting fit to earn his place in the NRL back.
In round one of the 2019 Intrust Super Cup he fractured his T6 vertebrae and was heavily concussed against Easts Tigers.
While he admits it shook his confidence, and led to being moved to the wing and centres at various stages, it is ancient history and he is ready to cement his place at the back.
"It rattled me a fair bit and I couldn't really find any form coming back into my footy after that," Anderson said.
"I was tried in different positions, but I'm looking forward to this year and hopefully I can sustain that position.
"I didn't remember much of the game. I've watched the footage and it wasn't an ideal thing to see.
"But it hasn't changed my thought on rugby league. I love the game and I want to play NRL - that's my dream and being back here I reckon that'll ignite it for me."
Anderson reunites with his former Cutters coach Steve 'Pup' Sheppard, who has moved to Townsville as assistant coach under Payne.
The pair's blast from the past will continue this weekend, when they travel to Bowen to take on Mackay in their first trial game of the pre-season.
Despite having represented the Blackhawks in 2018, Anderson said he was "actually pretty nervous" coming back into the fold.
But he believes the Townsville system will provide him with the best opportunity to work his way back.
"I don't know to be honest (why I was nervous). I've been here before, then I had to try to come back and get back into something Payney has created," Anderson said.
"The boys have been really welcoming. I love being under 'Payney' and 'Pup' and I'm learning every day.
"I've been full-time for a couple of years and I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to get back into an NRL system to try and crack it.
"It has been in the back of my mind, but I know I have to do all the little things to get back to there."
The Blackhawks will be captained by recruit Tom Hancock in tonight's trial against the Cutters at Denison Park in Bowen.
The Blackhawks under-18 and under-20 sides will also travel with the team and play beforehand.