News Neilsen on top of the world after a crazy few months in a sport he loves


Super Moderator
Staff member
Oct 1, 2013
Reaction score
Just ask Parkes junior footballer Finnley Neilsen, these past four months really have been a "crazy" ride for the 16-year-old.

After a good year of footy in 2018 - one of which saw Neilsen selected in the NSW Combined Catholic Colleges Country Rugby League under 15s side - momentum really began to build for the teenager when he debuted for the under 16s Western Rams in the Country Championships in February and March this year.

Not only was it his first time wearing the green and white jersey, he also captained the side.

Though Western fell short of completing a stunning, undefeated Andrew Johns Cup campaign, going down 18-6 in the final in April, Neilsen was one of six under 16s Rams - and one of two Parkes Marist Junior Rugby League players - selected to represent NSW Country.

The honour gave Neilsen the opportunity to play against the best footballers from the under 16s Harold Matthews Cup in a city-versus-country format in Penrith on May 17, as well as a place in the touring side that heads to England in November.

READ MORE: City slickers prove tough task for Western's NSW Country guns

But the pinnacle came on May 23 - Neilsen was sitting in his maths class at Red Bend Catholic College when a phone call from dad, Mark Neilsen, had him stepping outside.

Not sure what was happening, dad told him he had just been selected in the NSW under 16s squad that will take on an under 16s Pasifika team at Belmore Sports Ground this Sunday.

"I thought he was joking," Neilsen laughed, admitting he was quite down about it at first.

"When I realised he wasn't, I was on top of the world.

"The goal was to play as good as I could and see where it went.

"If it came, it came. If it didn't, I was still pretty proud of making the Country side."

Adding to what has been an incredible year for the lock forward - Neilsen has also signed a three-year deal with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

Since March, Neilsen has been attending regular training sessions with the Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground during the school holidays.

The Bulldogs have also been monitoring his games, fitness and ability.

"They want him to stay in Parkes for now and we want him to finish Year 11 and 12 with his friends," Mark said.

"They're pretty keen to get him over there when he's finished school to play in the SG Ball (under 18s) season.

Neilsen said there's so much he's learnt in the past few months, including working on his confidence and not letting himself be intimidated on the field.

"The last few months have been pretty crazy, everything has come at once," he said.

"The build-up to the Harold Matthews match was pretty big.

"Trent Barrett spoke to us before the game, told us to do our best and talked about the effort we've made to get here.

"I tried to keep myself as calm as I could.

"The NSW selection was a shock and has showed me that I can do it."

Neilsen is now turning his full attention to this long weekend's clash.

He heads into camp at Homebush this Friday to prepare for Sunday's Pasifika match, which will involve players from Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

And sitting in the Belmore grandstand watching and supporting the 16-year-old will be his biggest fans - his family.

Neilsen admitted the game will be tough and one of his biggest challenges to date, but he's not letting anything affect his focus.

"I want to improve on my game," he said.

"I want to improve on my line speed, my offloads and my defence.

"I want to learn to be more agressive."

Neilsen is a member of the Parkes Marist Junior Rugby League Club, who have appointed him captain of the 16s this 2019 season.

He also trains with the Parkes Spacemen Rugby League Club in the 18s twice a week.

Finnley Neilsen is the son of Mark and Cathy Neilsen and the grandson of Ray and Ros Neilsen, all of Parkes.

Mr Invisible

Apr 26, 2008
Reaction score
Hope he kills it. We are a bit bare when it comes to locks coming through (Jaavier Pitavao and Beock Hammill are about it).