Geyer, Kimmorley and Tamou sign on as NRL Wheelchair Ambassadors
NRL Wheelchair is thrilled to announce that Mark Geyer, Brett Kimmorley and James Tamou have signed on as Ambassadors to raise awareness, increase participation and take the game to new levels.
Their signings are the next step in the growth and maturity of the inclusive sport that now boasts men’s, women’s and representative teams across New South Wales and Queensland.
NRL Wheelchair Director Joseph Chidiac believes that the three league legends will help raise the profile of the sport and highlight its many benefits.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that Mark, Brett and James have agreed to come on board. As Ambassadors they will champion our sport in the eyes of the community, attracting players, expanding competitions and maximising the appeal of the sport to corporate partners who share our vision,” Chidiac said.
Each Ambassador provided the following comments about their support:
One of the most fearsome forwards of his era who played for NSW and Australia, Penrith Panthers champion Mark Geyer is now a revered radio personality on Triple M.
Geyer is a fiercely passionate supporter of NRL Wheelchair; so much so that the Western Sydney Wheelchair Rugby League competition plays for the ‘MG Wheelchair Rugby League Cup’. Geyer is also the official Ambassador for the Western Sydney competition.
“Wheelchair rugby league is one of those things where people say ‘Yeah, I’ll get out and help’, but they never find a way to do it. Now that I’ve been given the honour of being an ambassador of the Western Sydney competition, I’m going to try and help these guys out as much as I can”, Geyer said.
Brett Kimmorley, a 307-game first grade veteran who represented Australia and NSW, understands the struggle many wheelchair athletes face in the aftermath of life-changing events, having lost his wife, Sharnie, to brain cancer in 2017.
“I think everyone should be given an opportunity to pursue a dream or continue living and have some happiness,” Kimmorley said.
“My life changed in a big way 18 months ago, so for me it was a matter of thinking that lots of people get setbacks. It doesn’t mean their life ends; it’s more opportunity to show that you can get through a horrible time and still be able to smile and chase a dream.
“For the NRL Wheelchair players there’s the ability to exorcise some demons and get a release. Whether you’re able to run or you’re in a chair, we all have that competitive edge; we want to win or just have some fun and be around a team.”
Kimmorley believes wheelchair rugby league has the same capacity for growth that women’s rugby league has experienced in recent years.
“We’re seeing the women’s game take off now; five years ago you probably would never have thought we’d have a national women’s competition,” said the former star halfback for the Storm, Sharks, and Bulldogs. “What’s to say going forward we won’t see the same growth with NRL Wheelchair?”
James Tamou, a current Penrith Panthers NRL player and a NSW and Australia representative, is excited to help out the rugby league community in his role as an Ambassador for NRL Wheelchair.
“I just want to give back to the game. I’ve come to the realisation that with the image I have I can hopefully help others into the game of wheelchair rugby league and grow the game.”
Tamou’s older brother, who was a big sports fan, suffered an horrific neck accident and only has 60% mobility.
“For me, I’m hoping to pay it forward in this way where you see guys who may be down and out because of an accident or something unfortunate that’s happened.”
Tamou, a 2015 NRL premiership winner with the North Queensland Cowboys, said he was in awe of the skill and toughness displayed in wheelchair rugby league.
“I was surprised when I went and watched – there’s a lot of physical contact, guys just about get flung out of their wheelchair and they pick themselves up and carry on going.
“It is inspirational to see and the skill level is incredible. You see guys flicking the ball out the back and stuff like that. You can see how competitive they are – the competitive drive is still there for these guys and they get a lot of happiness from playing.”
Wheelchair NRL Ambassadors are available to speak more about their involvement.