Rugby League: Alex Walmsley
A year ago, Alex Walmsley was studying to be a quantity surveyor and wondering whether he might get a few first-team games at Batley. Now he is surveying a Super League career at St Helens.
The 22-year-old prop is a classic example of the way a talent can sneak under the radar.
For his first two years at Leeds Met Carnegie he did not even play for his university team, preferring to concentrate on his amateur club, Dewsbury Celtic.
Once the Met's coach, Paul Fletcher, got hold of him, however, his progress was rapid. He was the Student Rugby League player of the year and caught the attention of semi-professional Batley. "Their coach, John Kear, told me he was taking a gamble on me and I only expected to play the odd game now and again," Walmsley says.
Neither player nor coach need have worried. Walmsley played almost every game last season, was Batley's player of the year and the Championship young player of the year.
With credentials like that, Saints were persuaded to take a look and liked what they saw. Although he had not come through the usual channels and had been, by his own admission, a fat, unfit teenager, they could see Super League potential in him.
They offered him a contract and Walmsley told the firm that had already offered him a job when he graduated that he would not be taking it up.
Saints do not expect him to make an instant impact at the top level. The plan is for him to be loaned back to Batley when he is not needed for Super League.
But those who have watched his development over the last 12 months do not expect him to play very much more Championship rugby.
Big, mobile front-rowers with good hands and a dash of aggression do not grow on trees and Fletcher is already on record predicting that Walmsley could go all the way to full international honours.