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English roughie Flanagan bursts out of barriers for Tigers GLENN JACKSON
March 25, 2010
Through the hype that has accompanied Sam Burgess from Bradford to South Sydney, it might have escaped the attention of many that the forward is not the only English import to be making his mark in the NRL this year, let alone that his name is in fact Mark.
But Mark Flanagan, the new Wests Tigers recruit, can take heart from the 2002 Melbourne Cup when Media Puzzle upstaged the more-fancied Dermot Weld-trained Vinnie Roe. Sometimes the less-hyped stablemate can have success. ‘‘I’ve probably come under the radar and that’s fine by me,’’ Flanagan said yesterday. ‘‘I’m just concentrating on getting stuck into my rugby.’’
And stuck in he is getting. Flanagan would have been considered a 200-1 shot, as Media Puzzle was, to upstage Burgess this year, but he is firming nicely after recent efforts. ‘‘He’s certainly quickly picking up a sun tan,’’ his coach Tim Sheens said.
And not by sitting on the beach, or the bench. Sheens is referring to the fact Flanagan played 80 minutes against the Roosters last Sunday, in sweltering heat - and earned the players’ player award. It came after an ankle injury kept his time on the park during the trials to a minimum and a bad facial cut shortened his NRL debut. That forced him to wear headgear against the Roosters, making the heat ‘‘quite unbearable’’ for this 22-year-old born in Oldham. Which makes his effort in that game quite remarkable. ‘‘The heat was something I’m not quite used to,’’ he said. ‘‘I knew coming over here was going to be tough, but I worked quite hard over the pre-season and I’ve managed to do OK so far.’’
Possibly better than Burgess, although admittedly the Rabbitohs giant’s good touches have been overshadowed by two straight losses for his side. Flanagan said he felt for Burgess. ‘‘Myself and Gareth [Ellis] are good friends with Sam, and we both went to watch his first game,’’ Flanagan said. ''He’s doing well, but there’s a lot of hype on him. There was a lot of pressure put on him before he even played his first game.
‘‘But he’s a quality player and I’m sure Souths will come good.’’
The Tigers never felt the decision to punt on Flanagan would be an air swing. He is the son of former Great Britain international Terry Flanagan - who is in in the country to see Mark’s opening appearances in the NRL - and even though he has played little top-flight football in England, that is mainly due to a succession of injuries. He has played 10 Super League matches, but he began to make an impact with Wigan late last season. He said he had offers from other Super League clubs, and more financially enticing ones at that, but a girlfriend from Australia and a manager from New Zealand convinced him to move.
‘‘I’ve always watched the NRL, and my manager Frank Endacott is based in New Zealand so he knew a few people out here,’’ Flanagan said. ‘‘He suggested the idea and it’s seemed to work quite well. I’ve got a contract for this year and there’s an option for the next year, but I’m really open to the idea of staying a bit longer. I’ve just got to play my own game, and get stuck in.’’
nice read…I was at the Rorters game and was most impressed by Flanagans play…he was everywhere in defence - saved a try(the only WT to do so…lol) and gave a nice pass for Tiquiri’s try…he is a good buy!
all the new boys need alittle more time.
i think recruitment has done very well to pick up the talent that they have!
Mark Flanagan and Lote Tuqiri have been the stand outs for me over the opening two rounds.
Flanagan in defence, and Tuqiri in attack, and under the high ball.
It was such a suprise to see him so involved. For a second I thought it was David Fifita in place of Andrew when I seen the headgear flying into tackles. Showed some toe to set up Tuquiri’s try…. and the pass was a beautiful ball. It looked easier then it was.
Very Fulton like game.
I thought Sheens might have been rowing his own boat by selecting Flanagan so early, but TIms obviously seen the effort he puts in and some good footy skills to match. Happy to have him on the bench every week with that sort of performance.
He has Pedigree as well
Just watching tonight’s MNF game and i must say that (and may be a bit bias) on current form we have the best two Pommies by a long way.
I know Burgess is still finding his feet, however Ellis was very setled immediately last season and Flanagan has been ultra impressive this season and has hit the ground running. Burgess has been slow to get going and although he scored a try tonight he was still off the pace and always looking for the big shot - this just doesn’t cut it in the NRL.