Tryscor­ing star ‘ has NRL goods’

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMPSON

TOWNSVILLE Bl a c khawks coach Kris­tian Woolf has no doubt Zac Santo can make his mark as an NRL winger af­ter surg­ing into some ca­reer- best form.

Santo is lead­ing the In­trust Su­per Cup’s tryscor­ing list with 22, ahead of Ip­swich’s Marin Barba ( 19) and Is­rael Eliab ( 17) of the PNG Hun­ters.

A Char­ters Tow­ers prod­uct who came through the Cowboys Un­der- 20s sys­tem on a train- and- trial con­tract to even­tu­ally earn an NRL deal, Santo is off con­tract with the Cowboys at sea­son’s end and has played all his games this year in Black­hawks’ colours.

He crossed the try­line again dur­ing the Black­hawks 28- 26 loss to PNG in Kokopo, but Woolf says Santo’s fin­ish­ing abil­ity is just a part of his widerang­ing reper­toire.

“Zac’s ter­rific to have in the squad;

he does a lot of tough stuff com­ing out of the other end, which he prob­a­bly doesn’t get re c o g n i s e d enough for” he said.

“I still think he has a lot to of­fer in the In­trust Su­per Cup and as an NRL player.

“He hasn’t had a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties ( in the NRL) but he’s con­tin­u­ing to de­velop, and he brings a lot of things to a game that big guys can’t.

“He has plenty of speed, he’s ex­tremely ag­ile and he’s very tough.”

Santo made his NRL de­but last year in Round 17 against St Ge­orge Illawarra but has not played first- grade since, in­stead wait­ing for an op­por­tu­nity be­hind NRL tal­ented backs Justin O’Neill and Matthew Wright.

There is also com­pe­ti­tion from other fringe first graders in­clud­ing Kyle Feldt and Javid Bowen, who is yet to make his NRL de­but.

Santo is not the only Cowboys con­tracted player look­ing to make an im­pres­sion dur­ing their time with the Black­hawks, with Feldt, Glenn Hall and Kelepi Tangi­noa all push­ing their first grade cases.

A bye this week­end will give the Black­hawks a welcome rest fol­low­ing their de­mand­ing fort­night of football, which in­cluded their 40- all draw with East Tigers.

Next on their cal­en­dar is a hitout with Tweed Heads at Jack Man­ski Oval on Au­gust 8, fol­lowed by a clash with Ip­swich in Ch a r t e r s Tow­ers.

T h e Bl ack­hawks then fin­ish the reg­u­lar sea­son with games against Sun­shine Coast ( away) and Red­cliffe ( home).

“It’s a ben­e­fit to all our guys to get over their bumps and bruises, and four weeks out from fi­nals is a good time to have a bye,” Woolf said. “There’s plenty of footy left to get back into a good rou­tine.”

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