Tryscoring star ‘ has NRL goods’
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.”