Avid followers of the NSWRL Pathways and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles’ junior stars will by now be familiar with the name Luke Metcalf – and on Saturday afternoon, the emerging halfback and five-eighth reached another development milestone.
Metcalf’s growth as a Rugby League talent has been a steady one, which ramped up with a move from his home town of Coffs Harbour in 2014. The four years since have seen the former Endeavour Sports High School student star for the Cronulla Sharks in the UNE Harold Matthews, UNE SG Ball and Holden Cup competitions, earning him places in the NSW Under-16, NSW Under-18 and 2018 Emerging Blues squads along the way.
A signature with the Sea Eagles at the end of 2017, however, has seen Metcalf continue his progress on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Lining up for the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles on Saturday, the 19-year-old made a long-awaited debut in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.
“It was a good experience, playing against the older boys,” Metcalf told NSWRL.com.au after the Sea Eagles’ 24-22 loss to the Bulldogs. “I’ve been playing in the ‘20s but it’s good to jump up there and see the physicality, how different it is and to get my body used to it.
“Before the game I was a bit nervous but once I got a few tackles in, ran the ball for the first time it wasn’t too bad. The nerves settled down.”
A typical running half, Metcalf is not short on try-scoring ability; many will remember his hat-trick to help the NSW Under 18s’ to victory in 2017, while he has 20 tries to show for his 26 Holden Cup and Jersey Flegg games from the past two seasons. He kicked his Intrust Super Premiership career off in a similar fashion on Saturday, coming up with an 80-metre runaway effort at McGrath Foundation Stadium.
“That was pretty good, I was just a bit lucky there,” Metcalf admitted. “It rebounded off one of the boys and I just scooped it up, so I was lucky to run away with it.
“It’s mainly my defence [which needs work]. I’m a bit smaller so I need to make sure I get a bit bigger and keep working on my defence. You’ve got bigger boys running at you, there’s not many smaller people, so it’s good to have that practice.”
The next long-term goal, of course, is the NRL – and while the likeable junior talent knows the opportunity won’t be handed to him, his face lights up at the prospect.
“That would be so good,” Metcalf said. “Manly has got such a big history, it’s a good club with heaps of success.
“I’ve always looked up to the people who have played for Manly so to join the club with such a good culture, that would be really nice.”