Townsville Blackhawks forward Jake Marketo has not said no to an NRL return should the right opportunity present itself. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Townsville Blackhawks forward Jake Marketo has not said no to an NRL return should the right opportunity present itself. Picture: Zak Simmonds

NRL return for Marketo a matter of circumstances

A RETURN to the NRL is not completely off the cards for Jake Marketo - it would simply depend on what opportunity he was presented with.

The demise of the 2020 Intrust Super Cup has thrown a curveball at rugby league players across Queensland amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But the Townsville Blackhawks' forward believes sustained time away from the game will give himself every chance to be at his physical prime for the back end of his career.

It is the first time since he was five that the now 31-year-old has been without the sport.

However as the NRL works towards a May 28 return, with the competition set to be based out of Sydney, teams will not have the ability to build into the shortened season.

This could make Marketo's 52 games of first-grade experience and the no-nonsense consistency he implements into his game paramount to clubs searching for someone to fill a spot on their roster.

With fellow Townsville stars Jaelen Feeny and Kyle Laybutt as roommates, motivation to stay fit and on track is never a problem.

Jake Marketo’s consistency has been a trademark of his game, and could be valuable for NRL clubs in a shortened season. Picture: Evan Morgan
Jake Marketo’s consistency has been a trademark of his game, and could be valuable for NRL clubs in a shortened season. Picture: Evan Morgan

But while the self-confessed "footy nerd" said he would look at any chance that came his way, the decision on whether to relocate his life would be down to how likely he was to take the field.

"I suppose it depends what position they need filled. They always leave one or two open throughout the year for injuries or form," Marketo said.

"I imagine they'd be on the prowl, but I can only keep myself fit and if a door opens I'll look at it.

"It would have to depend, just the position I'm in now where I've got myself set up for life after footy I wouldn't want to go down there just to train for the season.

"As a footy player you want to be playing and I've put myself in the best position to do that. "But you're going into a team with its 17 pretty much selected. The chips would be stacked against any individual going into a team."

That life after football Marketo speaks about is in his current work as a youth officer.

Six weeks ago former Blackhawks and St. George-Illawarra Dragons teammate Neville Costigan got in touch with the veteran backrower and involved with the work.

Jake Marketo is well set up and excited for his future — both on and off the field. Picture: Evan Morgan
Jake Marketo is well set up and excited for his future — both on and off the field. Picture: Evan Morgan

Marketo has found a passion in his short time in the role, a passion that rivals that of his love for rugby league.

While securing the Blackhawks a maiden Intrust Super Cup - and with that his first senior title - is a priority he said his own life experiences had been the catalyst for a dedicated career in the years to come.

"I had a bit of a hard upbringing and didn't help myself in my teenage years. I can relate to these young kids and my job is to come in and help guide them," Marketo said.

"At the moment as a youth officer yes (this is my future), then one day hopefully I can move up and run a house.

"If you want to change your life around it's there to be done and I like to think I've done that and want to continue to be a better person each day."

Originally published as NRL return for Marketo a matter of circumstances



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