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Bank to the Broncos: rookie’s incredible NRL journey

Young gun flyers Xavier Coates and Herbie Farnworth have already been named to make their NRL debuts, and now they'll be joined by a hulking back-rower. 

Anthony Seibold's production line has hit overdrive with the Broncos coach to unleash four debutants against the Sharks headlined by Xavier Coates, Herbie Farnworth, Souths recruit Rhys Kennedy and now 110kg forward Keenan Palasia.

Coates, Farnworth and Kennedy had already been named in the top 17 but Palasia is the latest inclusion, with the 22-year-old to be blooded against the Sharks after edging out Shaun Fensom at training today.

Palasia's rise at Red Hill is remarkable. Just last month, he didn't even have an NRL contract and began working at a bank to supplement his meagre match payments playing for feeder-club Wynnum Manly in the Intrust Super Cup.

But after he impressed in 15 appearances for the Seagulls this season, Seibold couldn't resist, Palasia, whose 192cm, 110kg frame is similar in stature to his sporting idol, former NRL superstar Sonny Bill Williams.

It has been a turbulent journey to first grade for Palasia, who had a stint with the Broncos under-20s before suffering a string of knee injuries which threatened his footballing career.

"Keenan has just re-signed with the club a few weeks ago," back-rower Alex Glenn said.

"He was playing at Wynnum at the start of the year and now he is making his debut for the Broncos which is awesome for him.

"Keenan has been with the club a long time. He has come through the development squads, he didn't have a contract at the start of the year but it's a credit to him to keep working hard. He never gave up and he has been playing good football at Wynnum and deserves his opportunity this weekend.

"Keenan is a hard worker, he is a big boy and knows how to run some good lines. He has been around the club for a while and even though he hasn't played first grade, he is pretty experienced at line-running.

"I've seen him here in pre-seasons and he has always turned up and put his best foot forward.

"It's been a massive month for him and I'm excited to see him go out and perform for us."

 

Keenan Palasia didn’t have an NRL contract a month ago.
Keenan Palasia didn’t have an NRL contract a month ago.

 

Palasia has amassed 1570 metres this season for Wynnum Manly at an average of 104m per game. The hard-running second-rower was in the Gold Coast Titans' system from the ages of 13 to 17 before being snapped up by the Broncos.

Ironically, Brisbane's opponents this week, the Sharks, were eyeing off Palasia recently before Seibold staved off a poaching threat with a new deal.

"Keenan is a big kid," utility Jake Turpin said.

"He was a bit of a star player in the juniors and then he had three or four knee surgeries. He has gone back to the Q Cup this year and played really well. He has been given another opportunity by the Broncos and two weeks later he is getting an NRL debut so it's a credit to himself.

"When I have him next to me out there I feel comfortable. He is a big kid and he is pretty mobile as well."

Palasia recently told the QRL website he was inspired by Sonny Bill.

"I don't play anything like him, but my favourite player growing up was Sonny Bill Williams … I used to watch his games and clips on YouTube - the whole lot," Palasia said.

"Sonny changed how second-rowers play with his added footwork, ball playing and offloading in his game.

"He can do everything and is just the complete footy player. He has proved what an athlete he is in two codes, but more importantly I love the way he carries himself off the field as well."