Former Ipswich Jet and Queensland's latest State of Origin star Kurt Capewell had a terrific team of supporters in Adelaide.
Former Ipswich Jet and Queensland's latest State of Origin star Kurt Capewell had a terrific team of supporters in Adelaide.

Former Jet conquers twists, turns on rise to Origin heroics

Former Ipswich Jet Kurt Capewell made a magnificent impact debuting for Queensland in Wednesday night's State of Origin.

 

Capewell's second half heroics dealing with a groin injury helped propel Queensland to an upset 18-14 victory over NSW in Adelaide.

QT rugby league contributor MICHAEL NUNN looks back at the Kurt Capewell journey from his outback origins to the lofty heights of playing State of Origin.

 

THE Warrego River is northeast of Charleville, winding for 1380km through Augathella, Charleville, Wyandra and Cunnamulla.

If you travel there in the off-season, you might find Queensland Origin player Kurt Capewell fishing at his favourite spot.

The Kurt Capewell story has as many turns and tributaries as the Warrego River and the story continues to flow.

The Capewell story is a win for players that do not give up or think they are too old.

Now at 27, Capewell is Queensland Origin player 206 in the 40th year of Origin.

Even Origin had a sharp right angle turn for Capewell, who trained all week in the left centre position but did not find out until the Monday if he was playing.

Then with one training session to go Capewell hurt his groin and had to play in an unfamiliar position with an injury.

Capewell's great strength is that he is adaptable. He is like football's version of no more gaps for your bathroom reno.

Need him to play hooker sure, he would nod and give it a go.

Then on Wednesday night we saw him skipping across the face of the defence, swarming defence, an important intercept and a fend, spin and chip kick.

"It was unbelievable, such a great experience, to have my jumper given to me by Mal Meninga and coached by Wayne Bennett," Capewell said.

"I trained at centre and it took one session for me to feel comfortable and I was away. Wayne was great he gave me cues to look for and what good centres do and do not do.''

Then to game night and an Origin debut on the world famous Adelaide Oval.

"I didn't care where it was played. I would have gone anywhere to play for Queensland,'' Capewell said.

"I had about 10 family and friends that flew over. I got to see them quickly at the end of the game and that was a great family moment."

Along the way, Capewell has had supporters like his coaches at the Ipswich Jets and lifelong family friends Ben and Shane Walker.

"Kylie and I were reflecting on this before the Origin game," Ben said.

"Kurt was boarding at Ipswich Grammar and would come to our place on the weekends.

"We'd look out the kitchen window and he'd be out there holding the ball in one hand and palming off Sam or chip kicking over, Jackson, Tyson and Charlie.

"I used to say to Kylie all the time, he's going to play NRL, look at what he's doing out there.

"His move in the Origin was exactly what he'd do, spin and jump around then chip kick over my children.

"It's a win for backyard footy too."

 

A big part of that backyard footy exhibition was older brother Liam Capewell, who played 73 games for the Ipswich Jets and was there in Adelaide to watch his youngest brother play State of Origin.

"We weren't too sure if we should go or not to Adelaide but we got the word to make sure we all got there so we were pretty excited," Liam said.

If it is possible to hear beaming through the phone then I heard it when Liam talks about Kurt.

"Mum and dad and all three brothers got there to watch Kurt play Origin, what a story, what a great family story,'' he said.

"I am just so proud of hm.

"We didn't get a photo with him after the game but we were all there to support him and we saw him briefly.

"His chip kick will be on Origin highlights for years, how good is that."

 

Kurt Capewell playing for the Ipswich Jets in 2015. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Kurt Capewell playing for the Ipswich Jets in 2015. Picture: Liam Kidston.

The other half of the Jets former coaching team Shane Walker was sure that there was plenty of winners out of Kurt playing Origin.

Shane smiled like a proud uncle.

"It's a win for Charleville, Ipswich Grammar School, Ipswich, the Jets and the outstanding Capewell family, everyone who has played their part in Kurt," Shane said.

"He made his debut for the Jets at 17 against Wynnum on the wing and scored two tries, outside Brendon Marshall.

"We knew Brendon would look after him and he just had to stay outside and dine out on ball from Marshall."

From there Capewell would go and play 28 NYC games for the Broncos and Roosters scoring 11 tries but at the end of that period the Roosters cut Capewell.

Another twist in the Capewell story, he returns to Ipswich and living with Ben and Shane Walker at different times.

"We get rid of players too young, Capewell is testament to the fact that you're not done with at 19 or 20," Shane said. "You're not even done with at 27."

Having success in 2015 with the Jets Intrust Super Cup and a State Championship meant a trip back to Sydney and an NRL finals campaign with the Sharks in their 2016 premiership.

Then in 2020 Capewell suffered a knee injury and has only played 10 games all season. One was the NRL grand final and a State of Origin game for Queensland.

 

Kurt Capewell celebrates after scoring a try for the Cronulla Sharks. Picture: Brett Costello
Kurt Capewell celebrates after scoring a try for the Cronulla Sharks. Picture: Brett Costello

Capewell has now played 73 NRL games for the Sharks and Panthers and has his best football ahead of him.

"The next five years will be the best football he will play, but it's taken the long way around, Wynnum, Broncos, Sharks, Panthers, Roosters, Jets and Queensland.," Shane reflected.

"People forget that when you come from places like Charleville you don't get to play too much, you might play 10 games a year.

"If the same kid is in Brisbane he might play 40 games a year between club and school.

"It just needed patience and for people to wait and Kurt has caught up now in footy experience, now watch him go."

Go and flow, just as the Warrego River and that chip kick for AJ Brimson. The one that is now entered in Origin folklore.