Shy winger tells how he became better footballer in Ipswich
FROM a shy youngster to a Langer Cup try scorer growing in rugby league confidence.
Speedy winger Damien Burrows is now part of Ipswich State High School's "Cowabunga Brothers'' combination.
With good mate Sam Madden who plays centre, the duo have featured in some of Ipswich State High's best finishing so far in the elite schoolboy competition.
Burrows has scored twice - against Palm Beach Currumbin in the first round - before crossing in the first half of last week's clash with St Mary's College.
Although last year's Open competition runners-up Ipswich State High are yet to register a win, their attack out wide has been one of the most promising features.
Burrows is playing a key role in that, having shared in the undefeated run of Ipswich State High's Reserve Grade team last year before advancing to the top team in 2020.
Surprisingly, Burrows only scored one try last year - in the grand final.
So he was delighted to have two tries to his name so early in this year's top grade Langer Cup series.
"I didn't think I would be able to do it to be very honest,'' Burrows said.
"Everyone in A-Grade was just so determined and they were such high people I didn't think I'd even make the side this year.''
Growing up in Wynnum, Burrows joined Ipswich State High in year seven.
But it was only in year 10 that he started pushing himself to be a better footballer.
Ipswich State High's player-focused program helped Burrows overcome some shyness issues to back himself more.
The result was being part of Ipswich State High's title-winning Reserve Grade outfit last year.
"I actually didn't know the football program was like that,'' Burrows said.
"I just thought it was like a little muck-around thing.
"When I played the Ressies, just how much effort everyone puts into it was unreal, unbelievable.''
Burrows and Madden have been good mates since year nine, before he joined the program.
The powerful 190cm tall, 90kg winger appreciated having Ipswich Jets Mal Meninga representative Madden to help him.
"Especially playing with someone that I spend a lot of time with, in and out of school,'' Burrows said.
"They usually call me and my centre (Madden) the Cowabungas because we've got long hair.''
The nickname fun complements the serious side of working hard.
Burrows said before joining the Ipswich program, he "wasn't going anywhere'' - just playing muck around club footy of a Friday night.
"I came here and they just boost you so much,'' Burrows said. "So much harder than I thought I could go.''
Burrows said his school grades had also improved through the footy program.
He enjoys coaching the school's younger grades.
Burrows and his teammates are eager for their first home game on Wednesday afternoon. Ipswich State High tackle Keebra Park in the 4pm main match at the North Ipswich Reserve.
The encounter will be livestreamed again on this QT website, along with Ipswich State High's earlier Walters Cup clash between the same schools.
Ipswich State High's year 10 team are also chasing their first win in the match at 3pm.
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Playing fullback for Norths Tigers in club footy, Burrows has concentrated on a wing role with Ipswich State High.
Wednesday's must-win game at Ipswich's rugby league headquarters is a chance to show what the team can achieve.
"I reckon we can play much better than we actually are,'' he said.
"In the first two games, we've had heaps of errors and not completing all our sets and all that.''
Preparing for a game, Burrows likes to do a lap around the field or stand in the middle just to settle himself.
Having achieved what he has already at Ipswich State High, Burrows just needs to keep backing himself.