Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bronco Plans to Buck Trend; Rugby League 'Real Madrid' Ready to Give Thorman His Big Chance

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bronco Plans to Buck Trend; Rugby League 'Real Madrid' Ready to Give Thorman His Big Chance

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT HUGHES

CHRIS THORMAN may not be the most famous product of the Wallsend Boys Club, with Paul Gascoigne beating the likes of Alan Shearer and Peter Beardsley to that particular honour, but his story is just as incredible.

Well, almost.

The London Broncos stand-off is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime after signing a two-year contract with the Parramatta Eels, making him the first Geordie to play in Australian rugby league.

Thorman's remarkable rise to the top makes some of Gazza's more outlandish tales seem positively pedestrian. A year ago he was playing for Huddersfield Giants in the Northern Ford Premiership, a rugby league hinterland for the likes of Barrow and Batley, but now the bright lights of Sydney and Brisbane beckon. So how did this 22-year-old from Gateshead, a school friend of West Ham's Michael Carrick, end up in the National Rugby League?

Thorman said: "I've played the game since I was eight years old and loved every minute of it. I played rugby union, cricket and football at school but rugby league was always the one for me.

"I was in the same football team as Michael and we've got a lot of mutual friends. He's a bit big-time now. Nothing will ever change me."

Carrick may have the fame and fortune but, assessing their achievements in their respective sports, there is only one winner. Thorman's move to Parramatta is the equivalent of his mate being signed by Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Thorman's creative play has taken the Broncos to the brink of the playoffs for the first time and earned him a place in the provisional Great Britain squad for the Ashes series.

But the NRL is the toughest competition in the world, where few Poms dare to tread. Former Leeds forward Adrian Morley is a cult figure in Sydney's eastern suburbs after leading the Roosters to victory in last year's Grand Final, but for every hero there are several zeros who return with their tails between their legs. …

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