When Craig Bellamy takes notice, you must be doing something right.
The recently re-signed Melbourne coach was shown some video of Upper Hunter-bred Lachlan Walmsley by South Newcastle mentor Ben Cross.
Bellamy liked what he saw of the 20-year-old, versatile Lions back according to former Storm player Cross.
“I showed him [Bellamy] some footage of him [Walmsley] playing and he was impressed with what he saw,” Cross said.
“He even spoke about possible rookie spots, but the roster was filled. He [Walmsley] is someone he [Bellamy] will be keeping his eye on.”
Bellamy also mentioned to Cross about Walmsley shifting from his preferred position of fullback to play making at five-eighth, where he’s been filling in for Souths the last two weeks.
Walmsley was man-of-the-match in a 32-12 win over Kurri at Townson Oval on July 1 and picked up two player-of-the-year points in Saturday’s away loss to now ladder leaders Maitland.
“He’s definitely made fullback his own this year,” Cross said.
“It’s a tough comp and it took him a while to find his feet after debuting last year, but now he has he’s making line breaks, chip chasing and hitting gaps.
“He’s even filled in the halves the last two weeks and has barely missed a beat, which shows his versatility.
“Having that ball in his hands more often and being involved on the front line, rather than second phase, was something that Craig Bellamy actually had a chat to me about. Wanting to see how he’d go at five-eighth.”
Walmsley was born and bred into a rugby league family at Merriwa, but outside a season of under 10s with the Magpies he played most of his footy at the Scone Thoroughbreds.
This featured a first-grade, Group 21 grand-final victory in 2016 before graduating from the Knights under 18s and moving to Shortland the following year.
The roofing apprentice did the pre-season with Newcastle’s under 20s but missed the squad and joined Souths, under the tutelage of Cross.
Walsmley did the same again with the Knights in 2017-2018 but broke his thumb, not once but twice, on separate occasions.
After returning to the paddock he hasn’t looked back, scoring five tries in as many appearances for Souths since June 2.
“The Souths boys have really taken me under their wing and let me play my brand of footy,” Walmsley said.
Beyond this year’s competition, he wants to keep his options open with a NSW Cup, Queensland Cup or overseas squad all possibilities. “Try and get the highest grade I can ... hopefully make the NRL one day,” Walmsley said.
The fourth-placed Lions meet Western Suburbs in a top-five clash at Harker Oval on Saturday.