Anderson paves his NRL pathway
Just call him ''The Natural''.
Cowboys recruit Carlin Anderson's Ipswich Grammar School mentor insists the all-round sporting prowess of the 22-year-old is the equal of former Wallabies and Broncos star Berrick Barnes.
Both Anderson and Barnes attended Ipswich Grammar School and were teen stars in cricket, union and league.
Anderson was a Queensland rep in those sports, along with athletics and softball.
He had initially set his heart on a career in cricket, where he was big hitting top order batsman, before the Ipswich Jets swooped.
After winning the 2015 Intrust Super Cup premiership with Ipswich at fullback, Anderson was signed by the Broncos for the following season.
He then linked with the Townsville Blackhawks before signing a two-year deal with the Cowboys.
Ipswich Grammar School director of sport Nigel Greive told NRL.com of the innate talents possessed by Anderson, who won a sporting scholarship to the school as a 14-year-old.
"I have been here for 28 years and in my time as director of sport I have only seen one guy at the same level in terms of his all-round sporting ability and that is Berrick Barnes," Greive said.
"Carlin's power-to-weight ratio and timing is extraordinary in every sport he plays and in that area he is unique.
"He is not the largest bloke running around in league circles but he generates an incredible amount of power whether that be in bat and ball sports, tackling someone in rugby or breaking a tackle in league.
"The other thing he possesses is an incredible level of spatial awareness.
"It is in that Twenty20 world of cricket that I would have loved to have seen him play, because he was purpose-built for that.
"Carlin really flourished in the Jets program which is why he was picked up by the Broncos and then the Cowboys, where I am sure he will shine."
Anderson's exploits over the years have attracted a series of legendary stories, as his former Ipswich coach Ben Walker can attest.
"I was at (Brisbane private school) Churchie one day and the Grammar firsts coach was asking about how Carlin was going," Walker recalled.
"He said 'see that gum tree over there. He scored a century here one day and he hit one into the river and one over that gum tree'.
"We saw him at Jets training virtually straight out of school and he got the ball and busted us up with his first touch in an opposed session and we thought 'this kid can play'.
"In a semi-final the year we won the Intrust Super Cup he got a bad pass which went to his feet. He controlled it with a grubber, then another grubber. He kicked it four times with perfect control and scored. It was like he was playing with a round ball … and he is a very good soccer player as well."
Walker said Anderson was "part of our family, effectively" after he lived with Ben, wife Kylie and their four children for 12 months.
"He is a ripper of a kid, super-talented at everything and I want to see him go well," Walker said.
"Carlin has got a really silky touch. His pass is nice, he can kick and he can run. Even if he plays poorly I enjoy watching him because I just like the way he does things.
"Greeny is a good coach and he will put the hard work into him and get the best out of him.
"When he gets the work ethic and matures, there is no doubt he will play first grade because he has the skills most blokes don't."
Anderson suffered a horrific broken jaw while playing for the Jets in 2016, with the damage likened to what John Sattler sustained in the 1970 grand final.
At the back end of a 2017 Intrust Super Cup season in which he was the competition's leading point scorer, Anderson broke his arm. That resulted in him missing the finals.
Cowboys coach Paul Green had been keeping a close eye on Anderson. When a vacancy popped up in the Cowboys roster he moved in.
"We first had a crack at him before he signed with the Broncos," Green said.
"Then he came up here to the Blackhawks this year and I don't mind seeing that. It is a sign that a player is backing themselves to get back into an NRL system.
"Carlin was very good for the Blackhawks every time I watched him.
"We lost Kalyn Ponga over the off-season so it was a position where we needed to sign someone and it was a reward for the consistency Carlin had shown.
"It also shows to other players here there is a genuine pathway through Intrust Super Cup teams."
Anderson also has plenty to offer away from the field for the Cowboys, as Greive explained.
"Carlin is a very good role model in terms of being an Indigenous boy who has gone on with it," he said.
"He has come back to our school and given positive messages to our current Indigenous students about pathways and making good decisions.
"So there is a depth to him in a few areas, which is refreshing."
First published on NRL.com.