Tim Harlow, who trialled for the short-lived Super League competition in 1997, is the oldest player in the Real NRL at 39. Picture: Jonathan CarrollMOST footballers in the Newcastle Rugby League were kids when Super League played its only season in 1997.

Some were barely out of nappies.

But Lakes United prop Tim Harlow was busy trialling for the Cowboys in an attempt to play in the rebel competition.

Earlier, Harlow had trialled with the Illawarra Steelers, who merged with the St George Dragons in 1999.

Now 39, the Queenslander is easily the oldest player in the Real NRL.

The age of their grey-haired recruit was a source of fascination for many of Harlow’s younger Seagulls teammates in the pre-season.

‘‘I get on well with everyone, but I get a bit of ribbing about being old most of the time,’’ Harlow said.

‘‘For the first six or seven weeks the boys were all asking how old I was and there were various rumours flying around.

‘‘I wasn’t saying too much, but it’s all come out now.’’

Harlow is an old-school prop in the purest sense.

Since making his first-grade debut at 16 in 1992 for his home-town club, the Blackall Magpies, Harlow estimates he has played more than 400 games in the Brisbane, Gold Coast, Rockhampton, Cairns, Mackay and Townsville competitions. He has also been coached by former NRL mentors Murray Hurst (Cowboys) and Anthony Griffin (Broncos) and won the Rockhampton player of the year award in 2010 with the Yeppoon Seagulls.

The carpenter’s only regret was never reaching the professional leagues.

‘‘I could have went to Illawarra when I was 17.

‘‘I just got an apprenticeship and they couldn’t get me a job, so I didn’t go.

‘‘I did trial for the Cowboys when Super League started and I had a run of broken arms. They wanted me to go back and trial again, but I couldn’t. After that I went away working.’’

Harlow’s wife was transferred to Williamtown RAAF base over the summer.

His search for a Newcastle club was relatively short after a chance meeting between Harlow and Lakes sponsor Gary Beckett, director of Cementus, at the Newman Races in Western Australia.

Two games for the Seagulls have resulted in victories over Macquarie (19-14) and Kurri Kurri (40-22) to ensure Lakes United are the only club with a perfect record.

‘‘The comp down here isn’t any tougher than the ones in Queensland, really,’’ Harlow said. ‘‘I’ve played in the Mackay comp recently, and when you play the top sides there it’s probably the same sort of pace. You’ve got easier games as well.

‘‘It’s probably a more consistent comp each week down here, from what people tell me. I’ve only played two sides so far, but I’m enjoying it.’’

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