A career that began in a pair of borrowed boots reaches a milestone tomorrow when Liam Horne plays his 50th Hostplus Cup match for Norths.
It’s been an eventful half-century – Horne has featured in two Norths’ grand final wins – but that’s typical of his career path since he first wore a Devil on his chest as a 10-year-old.
Horne set a career goal to play first grade for the Devils but he made an unlikely way there.
Horne was the five-eighth in a Devils’ Under 18 grand final, he was the centre in a memorable Colts’ premiership win and then he was an energetic middle forward bursting through Wynnum Manly in the 2021 first grade grand final.
Tomorrow, he will divide time between hooker and lock for coach Dave Elliott as the Devils host Tweed Seagulls at Bishop Park in the annual Indigenous Round match.
Horne made his first-grade debut against Tweed four years ago on a day that didn’t turn out as planned.
David Fauid was the 18th man that day but was called into the team with hours to spare when a Brisbane Broncos-contracted player withdrew.
Fauid had forgotten his boots so Horne lent his former junior teammate his pair, expecting he would be watching from the bench.
But then Devils’ forward leader Michael Sio tweaked a muscle in the warm-up and Horne was told to get ready. He borrowed a set of boots from a Colts player and then slogged through dreadful rain as Tweed walloped the Devils.
“That was a crazy day but it was good to get that first grade match for the Devils because I had wanted to do it for a long time,” Horne said.
“I’m just grateful to everyone at this club who has helped me over the years. It’s been a great club to play for and that’s because of the people here.”
Horne has repaid the faith of the Devils by establishing a reputation as one of the hardest runners in the competition.
Weighing only 90kg, Horne runs with an intent that has yielded eight tries already this season.
Papua New Guinea selectors noticed his development last year and handed Horne a treasured international debut.
That was followed by another grand final for the qualified electrician, this time including his critical role in one of the Devils’ three tries in a 16-10 win over Redcliffe for back-to-back titles.
He’s energetic and courageous on the field but Horne admits he had to work on his self-belief.
“I really just wanted to make myself into a regular first-grader but I knew to do that I had to have more belief in what I could do,” Horne said.
“The 2021 grand final helped me a lot with that. I came back in the pre-season and I really wanted to work off that and get a spot in the team throughout last year.
“It’s been a highlight to play with such good teammates but now we’re focusing on this year and what comes next.”
Horne spent last off-season training with the Brisbane Broncos and he now wants to achieve a fulltime role in an NRL squad.
“That’s a goal for me but I know I have to keep working hard,” he said.
Photo by Alan Drinnen