RUGBY LEAGUE: The North Burnett continues to play a role in bringing up rugby league stars, including North Queensland Cowboys prodigy Kyle Laybutt in Mundubbera.
Earlier in the week the 22-year-old attended a training clinic for junior players along with Melbourne Storm player Cheyse Blair and Australian Jillaroo player Simaima Taufa in Gayndah.
Laybutt was a late call-up for fellow Bundaberg player Coen Hess and taught children all about the game as part of the NRL's Road to Regions tour.
Laybutt said it was good to be back in familiar territory.
"I'm originally from Mundubbera, I was born here and when I can I try and visit my family, last time was around 12 months ago,” he said.
"I was pretty excited to come back and visit my granddad, aunty and cousins.”
Laybutt returns to the Cowboys for this season after re-signing for the club on a one-year deal last year.
The former Eastern Suburbs and Western Suburbs junior said despite other NRL clubs making offers, Townsville was where he needed to be.
"It was an easy decision, they gave me the chance to play NRL,” he said.
"They gave me the opportunities and I wanted to reward that.
"I also enjoy professionalism of the club.”
Laybutt said it was important the NRL clubs gave back to the smaller communities.
"It's massive, you see the smile that the kids give you and especially from being around this area, it makes them realise it's possible to make the NRL from being in a small town,” he said.
"I think it's a great initiative from the NRL to give back to small communities.”
Cowboys coach Paul Green has got Laybutt playing in different positions in the hope he can be used in a utility role.
"I've been playing a few games at hooker and they are happy with what I've been doing so far,” Laybutt said.
"I'm looking forward to the trials coming up.”
If it doesn't work out, Laybutt will try and impress at his new Intrust Super Cup team.
He will be playing for the Mackay Cutters, moving to the club from the Townsville Blackhawks.
"The Cowboys coaching staff allocated me there,” he said.
"They said I have a better chance to control a team and make it on my own.
"I'll play at half-back for them in the competition, with Josh Chudleigh at hooker.”
Laybutt believes rugby league is a thriving sport.
"I believe the junior teams are always growing, especially at my club in Bundaberg,” he said.
Laybutt is expected to be given a chance by Green and said this year is his season to take the opportunities with both hands.
"In my eyes I think this is my year to do something,” he said.
"I'll be putting pressure on myself, I want to get into and lock a first-grade position.”
The Cowboys kick off their trials against West Tigers in Cairns on February 17.
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