Standing at 197cm, you would be forgiven for thinking the Mendi Blackhawks latest signing Josh Hall played in the National Basketball League.
In fact, basketball is one of the few sports Hall hasn’t played at an elite level.
The Townsville product played rugby league as a junior with Western Lions and United Redbacks, before giving up footy to focus on a future in athletics.
A gifted high jumper, Hall took home medals from international competitions and came within centimetres of competing at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
But a twist of fate saw Hall, who was asked to fill in for the AFL team he was completing part-time physio work with, selected at number 94 in the 2012 AFL rookie draft.
The former Gold Coast Suns forward defected to rugby league last year after a conversation with Penrith Panthers boss Phil Gould, luring Hall further south.
Returning home to Townsville after five years in the AFL and NRL was an easy decision for the 26-year-old, who recently welcomed a baby girl into the world with partner Rhiannon.
“I had some family changes in the off season and thought the best thing for myself and my new family would be to return to Townsville where we have a bit more support, but obviously still wanted to play footy,” Hall said.
“I enjoy league, and last year was good to get back into it and do some different training, stuff that I was use to growing up.
“Coming back to family I think will help me off field and ultimately help me on field.
“With the family support around me hopefully I can produce a higher standard of footy.”
Hall said he enjoyed his time in the AFL, but has always seen himself as a rugby league man and was looking forward to playing in the Blackhawks squad.
“I’ve been following the Blackhawks since day dot,” Hall said.
“I went over to AFL and played four years at the Suns but I’ve always been a Leaguey at heart.”
Coach Kristian Woolf said Hall was another strong signing for the Blackhawks squad.
“He’s a very talented athlete with a lot of potential,” Woolf said.
“He still has a little bit to learn about the game but is going to be a very good prospect for us.
“He’s another example of what we’re set up for in the first place in terms of bringing talented local blokes home.”
Hall said his goal was to continue to build on the skills he had gained in his first season of senior rugby league in 2016, to perform well for the Blackhawks in 2017.
“I had a good year last year and (to) hopefully reproduce or even better that would be my goal,” Hall said.
“I’ve really enjoyed where I’ve come from to where I am now, I’m proud of how far I’ve come so hopefully I can continue that progression.”
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