Morgan Harper is in the frame to make his NRL debut for the Bulldogs
Morgan Harper is in the frame to make his NRL debut for the Bulldogs

Bulldogs rookie on track for shock NRL debut

Canterbury rookie Morgan Harper arrived in Sydney with more than just his own ­future in his young hands.

Harper became a dad to twin boys Leo and Ryder when he was 17.

Just a few months later he left the New Zealand town of Ngaruawahia to pursue his football dreams having inked a deal with Canterbury where he struggled to adjust to life so far away from home.

"That was pretty tough," Harper said.

"I was going home every time I could and I was close to moving home. I spoke to my family and my partner and we just said they wanted me to have a real dig. They came over here and we got our place. Now I'm loving it over here.

"My boys have just turned three. They are always keep me on my toes. They were a big part of why my family moved over here.

"It was tough but I had a good support base. They helped me get to where I am. I'm grateful for that.

"I'm glad I stuck it out and continued to chase my dream."



Harper's dream of playing first grade is close to being realised with the 21-year-old pushing to make a shock debut when Canterbury play New Zealand in round one following the off-season departures of Josh and Brett Morris.

He was promoted to the top 30 squad for the first time this year after the outside back had a strong 2018 where he featured in the Jersey Flegg competition before playing in Canterbury's national reserve grade-winning side.

"Getting a top 30 spot was pretty special to me," said Harper, who is contracted until the end of 2020 season.

"I've worked pretty hard. Since I got there I felt like I've worked and trained harder. I'm just learning more and more each day. I'm just trying my best in everything I do. I love playing footy. I love working hard in and among the boys. It's great.

"I still have a lot to learn. I'm still very young and we have some quality players here. I'll keep working at the things I need to do.

"If the opportunity arises I'll take it. If it comes in round one I'll be ready. You're always ready for NRL.

"If there is a tough carry that needs to be made I'll always put my hand up to make it. I just love being around good halves which we have here at Canterbury who can put you in one-on-one positions.

"You can beat the man and create an opportunity. I can't narrow down anything. It's nailing my one on ones in ­defence and attack."



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