HE is the late bloomer Newcastle Knights talent scouts doubted would ever make the grade.
Now South Sydney’s Andrew Everingham is established as one of the NRL’s leading try-scorers after a remarkable debut season, and on Sunday at ANZ Stadium he hopes to add to his tally when he plays against his home-town club for the first time.
Born in Waratah’s Mater Hospital, Everingham grew up in Thornton and Beresfield and played his junior football with the Beresfield Bears, Waratah-Mayfield and Maitland, reaching the Pickers’ first-grade outfit as an 18-year-old.
But despite trialling several times for positions in junior Knights squads, Everingham copped so many cold shoulders he eventually headed to Sydney to pursue his dream.
‘‘I actually trialled for them three years in a row, but I couldn’t get a run,’’ the speedy outside back told the Newcastle Herald yesterday.
‘‘I think it was under 16s through to the under 18s.
‘‘After missing out the third year, I thought if I’m going to make it I have to try elsewhere, and I was lucky enough to get an invitation to trial with Manly.’’
Asked how he thought he performed in those Knights trials, Everingham replied: ‘‘I can’t remember the first one, but the last couple of years I remember walking off thinking, ‘This is it, I’ve done well enough to get selected, at least in the summer squad.’
‘‘But it was never the case.’’
Everingham spent three years at Manly in their Jersey Flegg (under-19) squad and lower grades, before switching to Western Suburbs, where he played another three years in the NSW Cup.
He showed enough potential for Souths to sign him on spec to a second-tier contract, and he has not looked back since making a try-scoring NRL debut against Penrith in round three, at the age of 25.
In his first five NRL games, Everingham scored eight tries – matching prolific Israel Folau’s statistics during his initial year in the NRL with Melbourne in 2007.