Following in his father's footsteps

Margie McDonald

The telephone has been running hot this week between CABE NSW Under 19s forward Kaiden Lahrs and his father, True Blue Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, ahead of Thursday’s State of Origin at Leichhardt Oval.

“He’s been great the old boy, it’s always good to have a chat with him … he’s actually been ringing me throughout the week,” Lahrs told

“I don’t know who’s more excited, me or him.

“He just wants to hear all I’ve been doing each day, just stay in the loop.”

Westpac NSW Blues coach Michael Maguire, who used to coach Learoyd-Lahrs in the Canberra Raiders lower grades, stopped to speak to Kaiden in the NSWRL Centre of Excellence gymnasium today as the Under 19s prepare to face Queensland at Leichhardt Oval on Thursday (20 June).

One of Kaiden’s coaches this week is another of his father’s Origin contemporaries – Luke Bailey.

“It was nice to speak with ‘Madge’”, Lahrs said. “It’s a small world in Rugby League, isn’t it? But I’m definitely proud of my dad.

“I’ve always looked up to him ever since I put on a pair of boots … just to see him go through the sorts of things that are now my goals.

“I want to do the same … play for NSW, play NRL.

“No surprises then that when he has something to say I listen and take it all in.”

Learoyd-Lahrs played four Origin games (2009-2010), and four Tests for Australia during his 120-game NRL career at the Brisbane Broncos, Raiders and Melbourne Storm.

Another nice surprise for Lahrs came after he was handed the No.16 NSW jersey – his first NSW representative jumper – which was the same number his dad wore in Origin.

“It’s pretty cool when I walked into the sheds and sitting in the locker room under the No.16 number to see his name,” he said.

“So sitting in the same spot as Dad is pretty unreal. It was a pretty good feeling.”

Lahrs has his own story to tell: born in Canberra, played most of his junior football in Tamworth, and now plying his trade in the Queensland Cup with the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.

“Dad finished up playing footy so we moved back home to Tamworth, when I was about 12,” he said.

“Then we moved up to Queensland when I was 16.

“Hopefully I also get to make my (NRL) debut and I’d love it to be with the Cowboys. It’s home for me now.”

But for this week he is enjoying the Under 19s atmosphere under coach and True Blue Andrew Ryan.

“It’s great being around the boys – it’s like a bit of a brotherhood being in a team like this. We’re getting on so well even though we’ve only been in camp a few days,” Lahrs said.

“There’s a real bond … I reckon we’ll be mates for the rest of our careers.”