Inmates stirred by Corey’s no-holds-barred approach
RUGBY LEAGUE: Within the walls of the Woodford Correctional Centre, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more talked-about NRL player than Corey Horsburgh.
Horsburgh grew up minutes away from the centre and represented junior clubs Caboolture and Bribie Island while playing in the Sunshine Coast competition.
Now, the son of prison guard Rick has become a popular figure among the hardened inmates since his debut for the Canberra Raiders last year.
Horsburgh shone in his rookie season as the Raiders charged towards the grand final with the flame-haired middleman enjoying cult-hero status.
That status has been adopted by some of Woodford's convicted drug dealers, car thieves and armed robbers, all wanting to know more about "Big Red".
"All the other guards, the inmates, they all love their footy and are always asking about him," Rick Horsburgh said of his son's popularity.
"A lot of them (the inmates) have found a way to watch games even though they're not supposed to.
"You'd be surprised how many people are now Raiders fans. I have old friends from the United States who watch him."
With Canberra holed up, confined to lockdown, Horsburgh himself compared the coronavirus restrictions to being behind bars.
"He was asking me what it's like for the prisoners. They've (Canberra) been locked up in a way," Horsburgh laughed.
"They can't leave the house like normal, so Corey has been playing a lot of Fortnite."
Seventy days have passed since the Raiders' convincing Round 2 win over the Warriors, and Horsburgh has been forced to cool his heels.
This weekend against the Melbourne Storm, Horsburgh has been named to start at lock: his favoured position.
"I'd love to get a few more starts under my belt. If I can get a few more minutes, then you never know what can happen," he told AAP.
"I just want to play consistent footy for the year and cement a starting role because I reckon we're going to have another special year."
Saturday's opponent and fellow Coast product Tino Fa'asumaleaui is itching to take on his friend and get one over the Raiders.
Melbourne are still smarting from their defeat by Canberra last year, which bundled them out of the race.
"It's good that we are up against them early," Fa'asuamaleaui said.
"We want a tough challenge up first against grand final contenders.
"Corey has always been tough. He likes to rile you up and really compete, too.
"It will be good to go against him."
Horsburgh is part of a booming selection of Queensland forwards to set up the Maroons for the next decade.
He joins names like Fa'asuamaleaui, David Fifita, Tom Flegler and Tom Gilbert as the Maroons' "generation next".
"That's what he's hoping for, Origin," Horsburgh said of his son's 2020 goals.
"Kevvie (Walters) has spoken to him about it. He has to work on his defence a little, that's all.
"He's always setting himself goals, and with Origin in November now, who knows?"
Horsburgh has found a loyal legion of Raiders fans, partly for his red hair, but more for his no-holds-barred attitude on the field.
"He's always been a mongrel," his father laughed.
"He hates losing. Absolutely hates it.
"I remember him in the backyard with his brother. He'd do whatever it takes to win. Against his sisters, too.
"We called him the baby giraffe, because he really shot up. Losing would just make him go harder and get angrier."