Londoner Louie is a rugby league rarity
PUBLISHED: 17:23 11 February 2009 | UPDATED: 14:02 05 October 2010
East London may not be a rugby league heartland, but it has produced one potential star in Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook
By JOHN HYDE
Harlequins star Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook admits he's not a natural rugby league fan.
The Isle of Dogs boy hadn't even picked up an oval ball before he was 16 - and barely knew anything about the sport.
So how did this East Ender and self-confessed football nut end up as one of Great Britain's finest young prospects?
"It was pot luck to tell the truth," McCarthy-Scarsbrook explains. "We had a supply teacher from up north at my secondary school and he wanted me to try rugby league.
"He took a couple of lads down to a youth development scheme at London Broncos - it was the first time I'd played rugby.
"I went in there not knowing what rugby league was or who the players were, but I've always been a big kid so once they gave me the ball and let me run, I loved it. Plus I've always had a knack for knocking people over."
Born in the Royal London Hospital, McCarthy-Scarsbrook went to school on the Isle of Dogs and turned out for Greenwich Admirals before his move to Harlequins.
A strong and powerful runner, his ball skills and monstrous tackling saw him offered a first contract in 2006, and he came of age the following year by nailing down a regular place in the starting line-up and grabbing a Challenge Cup hat-trick.
The 17-stone prop missed much of last season with a broken wrist, but he recovered quickly enough to make his England debut against Wales in October.
"That moment was class," he recalls. "Wearing the jersey of England was an honour and I know it pleased my family so much. Hopefully if I get a good season I can be knocking on the door for Great Britain but that's a long way off at the moment."
With a growing reputation, it is no surprise to see the youngster linked with moves to some of the sport's major powers in the north of England - but McCarthy-Scarsbrook is in no rush to leave London.
"Being down here means I don't hear too many rumours, but anyway I would love to be here forever - it's my club," he says.
"I want to win something this season and if we play consistently well there's no reason why not.
"It's great that other youngsters from London might see me and want to play rugby league. Hopefully it's a little bit of an inspiration to achieve what I have.