FEBRUARY LAST YEAR: Then Rabbitoh Mitch Buckett heads for the tryline to score against St George-Illawarra in the NRL Charity Shield.
FEBRUARY LAST YEAR: Then Rabbitoh Mitch Buckett heads for the tryline to score against St George-Illawarra in the NRL Charity Shield. Robb Coxaap

Grand final would end long wait for Buckett

IN his 16 years of football, former Caboolture Snakes junior Mitch Buckett has never played in a grand final.

In fact, his first semi-final win came only last weekend when his Wynnum Manly side beat the Ipswich Jets in the second week of the Intrust Super Cup playoffs.

He scored three tries in the match, where the Seagulls came back from a 22-12 deficit midway through the second half to run out 32-24 winners.

It they can get over the Easts Tigers on Sunday, Buckett is into a grand final.

"I have been waiting to play in a grand final since I was seven and it is one of my biggest goals in footy," he said yesterday.

"Easts are a tough side, but I know we can do it."

It has not come easy for Buckett.

He was shocked last year when South Sydney refused to offer him a contract extension.

The 22-year-old had scored a try in Souths' pre-season Charity Shield win over St George Illawarra, but failed to get a first grade call-up during the season.

He was entitled to feel confused by the contract snubbing, however, after starring for the Rabbitohs' feeder team, North Sydney, on his way to scoring 17 tries from 19 appearances, and holding a spot in the South Sydney top grade training squad all season.

With his NRL dream in tatters, the former Sunshine Coast Sea Eagle (now the Falcons) headed back to Queensland.

Having signed with Brisbane Broncos feeder team Wynnum Manly, he has made the three-quarter position his own in 2014.

Buckett said he had not abandoned his NRL ambitions and was confident he was on his way to earning a professional contract.

"I learned a lot down there at Souths and figured out exactly what it takes to get to that level, and that is consistency," he said.

"I'd have a few good games in a row and then I might play a couple of bad ones, but I have cut that out now."


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