KATE CZERNY

Livewire Parcell destined for NRL duty next season

IPSWICH Jets coach Ben Walker is already resigned to losing exciting youngster Matt Parcell to the NRL next year, describing the livewire grandson of former Kangaroos hard man Gary Parcell as a unique talent.

Walker is well aware of the growing interest from NRL clubs in the blond-haired 20 year-old following a breakout season in the Queensland Rugby League's Intrust Super Cup for the Jets.

Walker didn't go so far as saying Parcell (pictured) could be the next Cameron Smith.

But he said the youngster had the football pedigree and brain to be captain of an NRL club in three or four years.

Ricky Stuart's Canberra Raiders are one club rumoured to have inquired about Parcell.

He's set to be the latest in a long list of top players to come out of Ipswich, headed by champion halfback Allan Langer and the Walters' brothers.

From someone who played 179 first grade games - including 72 for the Brisbane Broncos - Walker's glowing assessment of Parcell's potential makes fascinating reading.

"It certainly doesn't surprise me NRL clubs would be interested in Matt, he's definitely top shelf and by far the best hooker in the (QRL) competition this year, including Jake Granville (Cowboys) and Kurt Baptiste (Sharks)," Walker said.

"He's very, very classy.

"He had a setback last year with a shoulder operation but has had a breakout year this season."

Being his coach, Walker may be slightly biased.

Even so, to suggest the former Fassifern junior has such a big future ahead of him when Queensland and Australian No.9 Smith is in the twilight years of his magnificent career. is a massive rap.

"There's nobody quicker out of dummy half in any competition (including the NRL), he's absolutely electrifying," Walker said.

Walker, who knows the benefit of sheer speed as a sweet-stepping five-eighth who scored a record 279 points in a NRL season with the Northern Eagles in 2001, said the days of the Steve Walters-style dummy half were well and truly gone.

"If you have someone who is explosive out of dummy half, he gets your team moving and Matt provided that for us," he said.

Parcell comes from great rugby league stock.

His grandfather Gary partnered Dud Beattie and Noel Kelly in an all-Ipswich front row.

His father Steve captained the Ipswich Jets and represented Queensland Residents.

"He's got that Parcell toughness about him," said Walker, adding he was a future NRL club captain in the making.

"He's ready for the NRL, absolutely."



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