Bluff’s McLaughlin named top player
BLUFF Rabbitohs five-eighth Peter McLaughlin was not aware of what the Jim Gallagher award meant. It took just a few wise words from some ex-players to explain it.
"A couple of older fellas told me what a great person and player he was," said McLaughlin, who was crowned the Central Highlands Player of the Year at the weekend.
"They told me all that he did for the game out here and that he was the heart and soul of rugby league out this way.
"It's a special award, and I am very proud to win it. It definitely means more knowing more about him.
"Even though we play a team sport, it is good to pick up awards like this. I haven't really received anything like it."
McLaughlin puts Bluff's premiership down to "everyone knowing their jobs and working hard as one".
"Winning the premiership was definitely the highlight. It had been 20-odd years," the 33-year-old said.
"It was a long time coming and felt so good.
"Because of the mines, training is difficult. Some weeks we have a handful of players show up, the next a full squad. But we all know our individual jobs and were able to put them into place."
He recalled being a wide-eyed 14-year-old running out for his first game for the Blackwater Crushers under-17s.
"Dad was the coach, and my brother was playing, and Dad said I should come sit on the bench. It was pretty daunting, to be honest," he said.
"He (Dad) knew I was capable, but didn't want me to get hurt, so he told me to just go and catch and pass, not run the ball.
"We played in the Rockhampton competition and did pretty well - made the finals. Some of the boys still talk about it as the best year they ever had.
"Five-eighth is definitely my preferred position, rather than running the ball back. I hadn't played fullback for a while, so it was a good change."
McLaughlin was also named the top try-scorer for the second year running.