Favourite son gained
LIKE the rest of Queensland, Stanley River Wolves secretary Kevin Perkins admits the Coast club knew very little about Aaron Whitchurch before last Friday night.
Now Whitchurch is the club's most famous son and there are plans to hang his photo in the clubhouse - as soon as they can procure a pic of their first NRL product.
Whitchurch's sizzling display on the wing when he made his NRL debut for the Broncos in their 26-12 loss to Cronulla at Suncorp Stadium jolted many people to attention.
That was certainly the case among the Wolves' faithful, who last heard of the former Australian schoolboy when he played for the club from under-9s to under-12s.
"Remember the name Aaron Whitchurch," Channel 9 commentator Andrew Voss said last Friday night.
There is no chance of that not happening in Wolves land - now.
"To be honest, him being away from the club for as long as he was, we weren't aware of his whereabouts until he came on the (TV) screen," Perkins said.
"We'd love to get something (a photo) up in the clubhouse."
At 186cm and 105kg, Whitchurch has wrecking ball written all over him.
As is their wont, the Broncos are attempting to shield him from the media spotlight for fear the accolades will go to the young man's head.
No doubt, though, he heard Brisbane stand-in skipper Alex Glenn's high praise of him following the Cronulla match.
Whitchurch got his chance after Broncos fullback Josh Hoffman was concussed. Over the following 59 minutes, he scored a try with his second touch, gained the most metres for Brisbane and tackled Sharks centre Ben Pomeroy so hard his ancestors' winced.
With Brisbane centre Jack Reed expected to be sidelined for a month after fracturing his leg against Cronulla, there is a good chance Whitchurch will see more first-grade action over the coming weeks.
"Aaron Whitchurch played very strong for a debut game," Glenn said. "He got us on the front foot for the majority of our sets on his kick return.
"So it was a great debut for him and very positive for his future."
Whitchurch was farmed out to Redcliffe for the start of this season's Intrust Super Cup season, after playing Toyota Cup for Brisbane in 2011, and the Broncos recalled him for reinforcement over the Origin series.
Redcliffe coach John Dixon is a member of the burgeoning Whitchurch fan club, likening him to Eric "Guru" Grothe, Parramatta's legendary steamrolling winger of the 1980s.
Dixon has used him at centre and wing, but it is thought Whitchurch may end up in the second row, but the Dolphins coach does not believe that should happen any time soon.
"When you think of back-rowers, you think of strong, powerful young men," he said.
"Some of the best wingers in the game have that attribute as well.
"He may not be (legendary light-footed Queensland winger) Kerry Boustead, but he may be Eric Grothe."