Former Gladstone junior stars in Storm squad for final
AS A junior playing for Gladstone Brothers Christian Welch was a skinny fullback but on Sunday he will pull on the purple jersey for Melbourne Storm as a big front rower in the National Rugby League Grand Final.
The 22-year-old played his junior rugby league in Gladstone until under 14s with a dominant Brothers side and one of those teammates was Josh Burns.
Josh, a West Tigers supporter, will be barracking for Melbourne this weekend hoping his friend and former teammate can come home with a premiership ring.
"If you go back six years I wouldn't have expected him to be playing in a grand final," Burns said.
"He has done well for himself."
The two played junior and school boys footy together for Chanel College and Burns said Welch wasn't a standout at the time.
"He was not the tallest, he was actually one of the medium to shorter blokes on the team," Burns said.
"He had a late and big growth spurt."
Welch left Gladstone as a junior and played a lot of rugby in Brisbane at school before making his name in the QCup for East Tigers.
He then made the Melbourne Storm under 20s team and after too many flights from Melbourne and Brisbane he made the move to Melbourne permanently.
There he became the under 20s captain.
Now, playing in the senior side, the 195cm 105kg prop and second row is expected to come off the bench in the final.
He will be alongside two other central Queensland men, star fullback Cameron Munster from Rockhampton and fellow Rockhampton man Tim Glasby.