Rookie Falcon Kurtis Shayler’s burning desire for 2021
Kurtis Shayler has only one goal for 2021: feature once for the Sunshine Coast Falcons in the Intrust Super Cup, the same competition he grew up watching religiously.
The Falcons rookie's goals might seem simple, but to a lifelong rugby league player and fan they're just the first.
"For me, it's just playing Cup, that's my main goal, getting one game this year and go from there," Shayler said.
"And perform (well) when I do get my chance."
Shayler, a Pittsworth Danes junior who came through the National Youth Competition at the Cronulla Sharks, linked with the Sunshine Coast three seasons ago.
Now 23 and fully fit and sharp from pre-season the centre says he has the tools to break into the Falcons outside backs.
"Centre is my favourite spot, but wing, fullback too," he said.
"I just need to play good in the trials and keep turning up.
"Cracking the ISC has been a long-time goal yeah, especially as a kid growing up slowly ticking off goals.
"Yeah, the Cup every Sunday arvo then the NRL. I loved it."
The Noosa Pirates affiliate knows his path to making the Falcons first 13 won't be easy and to do so he'd need to best good mates along the way.
"Starting centre would probably be Bessie (Aufaga-Toomaga), then Willie Toloi or Gary Anderson, they're all looking pretty good for a spot," he said.
"We're all good mates, healthy competition."
One trump card in Shayler's favour is that his last physical game of footy was less than six months ago, a factor that can't be said for the majority of the squad.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the Intrust Super Cup and Sunshine Coast Rugby League competitions, Shayler linked temporarily with the Pine Rivers Bears to play in the Brisbane Rugby League.
"It was me, Nat McGavin, Nathan Saumalu and Jai Ballinger from here, Sammy Burns played for Wests Panthers who knocked us out of the finals, I was filthy," he said.
"But it was great. It was really disappointing when it got shut down.
"You go through the whole pre-season and turn up and get one round.
"Playing for Pine Rivers has kept up the skills and timing, it's definitely helped."