Josh Essex prepares to pass the ball against Wallabys at Marley Brown Oval in the first round of competition.
Josh Essex prepares to pass the ball against Wallabys at Marley Brown Oval in the first round of competition. Luka Kauzlaric

Journeyman a big boost to Valleys in grand final replay

JOSH Essex may have travelled the world, lived abroad as well as on the other side of the country, but he is now back closer to home than he has been for a long time.

Work has brought him to Gladstone and subsequently to the Valleys rugby league team.

Originally from Bundaberg, Essex, who still has family in the city, made the move from Fremantle, Western Australia, to Gladstone for work and soon joined Valleys in the local competition.

After chasing the dream of playing in the NRL for a few years, Essex decided by his mid-20s it was over and went overseas.

"I went to St George Illawarra and spent a few years there and then went to Queensland Cup," he said.

"I was 24 or 25. If you aren't making it by then it is cut throat."

The five-eighth then decided to move to a colder climate, finding his way to Leeds, England, and then to France for close to four years before moving back to Australia.

This time it was on the west coast, finding a playing position with the Roosters in Fremantle - a side he believed would develop into an NRL team in the future.

"Absolutely, the competition has gone 10-fold in the last three years," he said.

Now back closer to home, Essex helped Valleys to defeat Wallabys 30-16 in the opening round grand final replay on Saturday.

Helping Valleys make it three from three on the day with the reserves and 18s also victorious, Essex is keen to help the Diehards win back-to-back premierships.

Now 29, Essex has no ambitions of playing at a higher level, just happy he has experienced the world as much as he has.

"I have done so much travelling, I have been lucky in that way," he said.

Round 1 results:

A-grade:

Valleys 30 defeated Wallabys 16

Tannum Sands 14 defeated Brothers 12

Reserves:

Valleys 38 defeated Wallabys 6

Brothers 26 defeated Tannum Sands 24

Under 18s:

Valleys 26 defeated Wallabys 6

Brothers 22 defeated Tannum Sands 16