Overseas crusade has Mustang keen

IT may be sooner than he intended, but the return of Damien Quinn will be a welcome addition to the Murwillumbah Mustangs rugby league side in 2011.

The 29-year-old halfback returns from a successful stint in the UK where he was a foundation member of the Celtic Crusaders.

Quinn has scored more points, kicked more goals and played in more matches than anybody else at the club (190 goals and 612 points from 112 appearances) and his 58 tries also places him as the club’s second greatest try scorer.

Known for his incredible consistency and durability, Damien is described as a club “legend” on the Crusaders’ website and in 2008 picked up the National League One Player of the Season award.

The Crusaders were granted a Super League licence in 2009 and their debut appearance brought a wonderful journey full circle for Quinn.

“It was just a good ride from start to finish,” he said. We started out on this bodgie field somewhere in England in front of a tiny crowd and before we knew it we were playing at places like JJB, Headingly and The Jungle.

“To spend years training and playing, to make it to the highest level and play on the big stage was an incredible personal achievement.”

Perhaps the most memorable moment came during that 2009 season, when Celtic Crusaders defeated four-time Super League champions the Bradford Bulls at Gratton Stadium, the club’s first win at Super League level.

“Our first win stands out,” he said.

“To beat Bradford at their home ground, a club which has won premierships and World Club Championships, for that to be our first win was wonderful.

“My parents were able to be in the crowd that night which made it even more special.”

Unfortunately, visa complications in 2009 led to the deportation of Damien and five of his Australian team-mates, bringing a premature end to his Super League career. But a short and successful stint with French club Lezignan followed in 2009-10.

His single season with the club was an extremely successful one which brought with it a league and cup double in the Elite One Championship.

Now back home, Quinn is looking to settle down with his family and play good footy for the Mustangs.

“I’m excited to be home,” Quinn said. “I’m looking to settle here with the family, I’ve picked up a teaching job for next year and I’m excited to be playing for the Mustangs again.

“We’ve got some really good young kids coming through and with a bit of luck on our side, I think we are in for a strong year.”

Damien will be reunited with another high-profile Murwillumbah local in the form of former Cronulla Sharks winger Luke Covell and the Mustangs will be hoping their friendship off the field will translate to a match-winning combination on the field.

“Luke and I have been really good friends ever since we played junior soccer together for the Tumbulgum Rangers,” he said. “We played all our junior footy together, were in each other’s bridal parties and can’t wait to take the field together again.”

Time will tell whether Murwillumbah’s big name recruits can gel on the field and be a force in the NRRRL (Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League) but Quinn is adamant he is going to put everything into his performances.

“We’re not here to wind down and take it easy,” he said.

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