Brothers the Next Big Thing By Nick Walshaw | April 26, 2008 http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegrap...006066,00.html The Next Big Thing(s) ... Liam Foran trains with Melbourne; a early family photo of the brothers; Kieran Foran trains at Manly. / The Daily Telegraph FOUR o'clock in the morning. An alarm sounds. Two brothers rolling out of their beds and straight into a huge pile of tracksuits, beanies, socks and jerseys. Dark, yep. Cold, bloody oath. "And on those mornings it was raining,'' Liam Foran smiles, "yeah, they were the best of all''. When finally ready to confront the wintry chill, Liam and younger brother Kieran push out the back door and into the crisp, dewy darkness. Two teenage boys driven by stories of their own heroes, the Johns brothers. Those Cessnock conjurers who passed over coal trucks and dunked leather Steedens into a bucket of soapy water to hone passing and catching skills. Old school efforts that create footballers, not athletes. And now before dawn the Foran boys get busy too. Running, flicking, chipping, floating. Assisted only by their own enthusiasm and the faint glow from two outdoor lights shining into the backyard. "But my brother and I, we loved being out there at stupid hours,'' Liam, now 19, continues. "Four o'clock, one o'clock, whatever. We wanted to be training when nobody else was. We wanted to be better than every kid our age.'' Still do. Which is why, despite boasting zero NRL games between them, these Foran brothers are quietly emerging as rugby league's Next Big Thing. An amazing pair of Toyota Cup halves - Liam a halfback with Melbourne, Kieran a five-eighth at Manly - who are already being touted as future New Zealand internationals. Of course, when word got out that The Saturday Daily Telegraph was chasing their story, the natives grew restless. "You're not saying they're the next Johns boys are you?'' one club official spat. "You're not gunna lump these kids with the tag of being the next Joey.'' No, we're not. But we can say the Forans have dedicated every waking minute of their lives to emulating those enchanting Newcastle playmakers Say too, that they're under surveillance from the Kiwis. Boasting an increasing fan base that includes Des Hasler, Dave Penna, Craig Bellamy, Stephen Kearney and the two Novocastrians they admire most. Right now, Liam is off-contract with half dozen clubs chasing his signature. Kieran, meanwhile, is signed at Manly until 2010. "Because they're both real talents,'' says Matthew Johns, who goes to Melbourne and Manly games early when working for Channel Nine just to see them play. "And I'd love to see them together in the halves. I don't know if it's possible but they'd really complement one another.'' There is no doubting the Foran brothers boast that intimate bond which, according to Queensland great Kevin Walters "can never be taught''. A connection shared by the Johns boys, three Walters rogues and those unforgettable Mortimer and Hughes clans at Canterbury. "It's a gift,'' Steve Mortimer explains. "Peter and Chris will tell you the same. When I was going to dart, chip, throw a short pass, they just knew.'' And this, more than anything else, is the Foran story. A refreshing New Zealand rookie yarn without the Mean Streets of Auckland tagline. Sure, Liam has that halfback swagger - "fancies himself a little'' laughs coach Brad Arthur - but that's where the urban gangsta comparisons end. These boys grew up, for example, on Sydney's north shore after moving across the ditch nine years ago. The old man is general manager of Big W. Their family home boasting tennis court and swimming pool. Oh, and did anyone mention they're white? "Yeah, definitely in the minority,'' laughs Kieran, still only 17. "I mean, there are plenty of Islander and Maori boys in the NRL but I can only think of two or three white Kiwis.'' And that's something this pair are determined to rectify. Have been since childhood when, along with best mate and now Roosters No.7 Mitchell Pearce, they trained three times a day. "Even when Kieran arrived at Manly he was still playing three games a week,'' Toyota Cup coach Dave Penna smiles. "We had to slow him down or he would've been dead by 20.'' Enthusiasm, passion, dedication, all born during those chilly pre-dawn training sessions. So too a bond that not even 861km can separate. It's why these guys talk footy three times a day over the phone, swap DVD footage of games, even boast lounge units overflowing with identical tapes of the Johns brothers in action. "Whenever we trained after school,'' Kieran recalls, "we always worked on plays that best suited our combination.'' And so now everyone waits. Waiting for these boys to crack the NRL. Waiting to see which one moves first. And waiting to see a halves combination which, Johns suggests, could really be "something special''. "Eventually, yeah, we want to go somwhere as a package deal,'' Liam smiles. "Because that bond between us is just so strong. Always has been. Even now I watch those tapes Keiran sends and know exactly what he's going to do with the ball in his hands. Know even before it happens.'' Hmmmm ... sound familiar?