David Armstrong scout report: what Leigh Leopards fans can expect from new signing

Mike Meehall Wood

Pic: Alamy

When David Armstrong was first linked with Leigh, it barely raised a ripple in Australia.  

Then, the 23-year-old got his chance in first grade thanks to an injury to superstar Kalyn Ponga and hit the ground running, impressing pretty much everyone who saw him play.

It wasn’t just his style, which foregrounds his pace and elusiveness, but also his story: Armstrong is from the tiniest of tiny country towns, Mundingi, with a population of around 750, situated on the New South Wales-Queensland border around six hours’ drive from Brisbane. Leigh will look like a bustling metropolis compared to there.

For a guy so unheralded to come straight into the NRL and kill it was a huge deal. He scored on debut and grabbed an eye-catching hat trick at Magic Round, further underlining his talent.

As a piece of talent ID, it looks incredible, because this is a deal that suits all parties.

Armstrong was a star for Newcastle’s New South Wales Cup side in the last two seasons, scoring an impressive 18 tries in 23 appearances. His biggest and best attribute? His blistering pace, which has already earned him plenty of admirers in the NRL – in a more open, expansive Super League, he could be devastating in broken play.

His average metres per game of 162 in the NRL this year is also mightily impressive, and another example of Armstrong’s running game.

That average puts him in and around the NRL’s top 20, and better than the likes of Joey Manu and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

But Leigh had their eyes on Armstrong long before he made his mark in the NRL in recent weeks – and their scouting systems on the other side of the world have unearthed another gem.

For the Knights, they have Ponga as first choice plus Fletcher Sharpe and Will Pryce, so could let Armstrong go, and for Leigh, they get a get that plenty of NRL clubs would take in a heartbeat.

At 23, he needs to play every week to get better, but knows that is unlikely at the Knights as long as Ponga is there, while also being young enough to kill it in the Super League and then come back and get paid big bucks.

Grade: A