BUNGENDORE product Josh Chudleigh is hoping a move north to Townsville will prove the springboard to breaking into the NRL.
Chudleigh last week signed a one-year deal with the North Queensland Cowboys after knocking back an offer from the Canberra Raiders.
The highly rated hooker has been signed on an under-20s contract but said he was hopeful a strong pre-season could put him in contention for an NRL berth.
“It’s a big move for one year but [the Cowboys] said when they signed me that they definitely see me in their future plans,” Chudleigh said.
“I’m hoping to have a really good pre-season, hopefully play a bit of Queensland Cup and maybe even get the opportunity to play NRL next year.
“There were a couple of offers from other clubs [including the Raiders] on the table but the Cowboys just showed a lot more interest.”
A former Raiders junior, Chudleigh played a part in Canberra’s run to the SG Ball Cup grand final in 2012 before walking away from the game and spending nearly 12 months in the rugby league wilderness.
But after being coaxed back to the field by Queanbeyan Blues coach Simon Woolford, Chudleigh enjoyed a standout first full season in first grade this year.
The 19-year-old crossed for 13 tries in 14 games and was named as the Blues’ players’ player.
Woolford acknowledged he had tried to convince Chudleigh to remain in Canberra for at least one more year but ultimately proved unable to sway the talented rake.
“I don’t think it was a case of the Raiders letting him get away,” Woolford said. “They offered him an opportunity but he decided it was the best thing for him to start at a new club.”
Chudleigh’s departure, meanwhile, leaves Woolford with a major hole to fill in the Blues’ 2014 line-up with fellow rake Jordie Hammond having also parted ways with the club.