Titans stars in Clarence returning to where it all began
THE Clarence Valley is the former stomping ground of three Gold Coast Titans who visited the region yesterday.
Yamba's Luke Douglas has become a household name in the NRL.
Paul Carter, son of former Penrith Panther Steve Carter, spent a year at Maclean playing for the Lower Clarence under-15s with Douglas' brother Jake.
The former Bulldog is one of the latest Titan recruits and has been coined by coach John Cartwright as a Greg Bird clone.
At 21 years of age, the former Australian Schoolboy is part of succession planning for veteran backrowers Bird, Mark Minichiello, Ashley Harrison and Nate Myles, all aged over 28.
Then there's Grafton's Anthony Don.
At 26, he's considered a late bloomer, having just completed his rookie NRL season, scoring seven tries from 13 appearances.
In an era where the majority of players are linked with NRL clubs as teenagers, Don grafted out a successful rugby league career in the bush instead.
It took a record-breaking 40 tries and 71 goals for Grafton Ghosts in 2010 before Don finally discovered a path to the top.
Snapped up by Burleigh Bears, he dominated there too, and was named 2011 Player of the Year despite missing eight games through injury.
In 2013 he finally realised his NRL dream for the Titans, including a try on debut.
"It's a bit rare for guys who don't come through the under-20s to make it these days," Don said.
"But there are a lot of different ways to get there. If you love the sport and the training, prepared to put in the effort and not give up, you can still make it."
Yesterday Don revisited where his dream began all those years ago: Westlawn Public School.
He and Holden Cup player Christian Hazard spoke to the primary school students and answered questions as part of the Titans Tackle Bullying Program.
The students were shown a video presentation entitled "Tackle Bullying", sending messages such as "you can speak up for a friend" and "don't be a bystander".