WESTS Tigers utility Tom Humble has always been surrounded by NRL superstars.
But long before he joined Benji Marshall at the Tigers, or Jarryd Hayne before him at Parramatta, or even Johnathan Thurston at North Queensland, the 23-year-old had the good fortune of playing alongside South Sydney’s David Taylor.
And, as Humble remembers, Taylor was the same destructive and gifted ball player as a kid growing up in Blackwater in central Queensland as he is today.
“Yeah, he has always been a big bloke. He has always looked a couple years older than everyone else,” Humble said.
"I think we were 13 and he had a size 13 boot if I remember correctly. We all used to get annoyed with him if we played a game of muck-around footy because all he wanted to do was kick the ball and all we wanted to do was put big hits on.
“He probably wasn’t interested in smashing us around, that was too easy for him.”
After graduating from St Brendan’s in Rockhampton, Taylor and Humble went their separate ways and their careers also took different trajectories.
Taylor has Test and Origin appearances to his name.
Humble is at his third club and has fought back from a positive drug test while playing for Wentworthville in 2010 when he unwittingly ingested a substance in a performance supplement provided to players before the game.
A Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in May last year enabled Humble to return, but unable to build upon his six NRL appearances for the Eels he joined the Tigers in search of more opportunities this season.
Humble has played fullback, halfback and hooker in nine games this season and has become coach Tim Sheens’ “Mr Fix It” through the club’s injury-ravaged year.
He will come off the bench in today’s clash with former club the Cowboys at Sydney’s Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
“It’s taken me a little while to get used to the Tigers’ style of game and especially Benji’s as well,” Humble said.
"But I think in the last couple of weeks I’ve slowly started to pick it up and adjust to it.
“We’ve won four in a row now, it’s a lot better than the five losses in a row that we had early on. We’re starting to grind away a few wins.”
However Humble knows the Tigers face the sternest test of their winning run today, particularly with the Cowboys buoyed by the return of giant props Matt Scott and James Tamou from Origin duties.