KATE BANVILLE, Townsville Bulletin Subscriber only | September 25, 2019 3:55pm
NATIONAL Rugby League has produced the Kangaroos, the Jillaroos and now it’s time for the Wheelaroos to take centre court in Townsville for their first international match up.
The adaptive sport which treats the wheelchair as simply sporting equipment is played with a five-person team following rugby league rules.
Two Townsville veterans have been named on the 10-man squad to begin its 2021 World Cup campaign with a trial match against England in Townsville next month.
Zac Schumacher will don the green and gold alongside Davin Bretherton, who has become a well-known name among the sport for his aggressive playing style that dominates on court.
He lost his leg from service injuries and said sport had clawed him out of a dark place.
“For me, it’s an overwhelming feeling of how far I’ve come and it’s really given me a purpose to live so it’s with immense pride I get to roll out there,” he said.
“I love the big hits and the combative side of the game but to be able to express yourself in a full contact sport in a wheelchair just shows there are no limits to what you can do in adaptive sports.”
Assistant coach Darren McKenna said the team intends to fill every seat at Townsville Stadium on October 15 to show it to the poms that the Aussies mean business.
He said it would be a huge moment for the team, which will be filled with strictly North Queensland players.
“This is a special moment for Townsville to get behind the team and host an international game like this for the first time,” he said.
“We have a huge talent pool here in North Queensland and I can’t talk highly enough about them, just the skill levels are unbelievable.
“The game is growing rapidly so it will be exciting to see the next wave of young players come through.”
Mr McKenna, who took up the sport after losing his leg a decade ago said the game structure means there’s a spot for absolutely anyone.
“Everybody can play whether you have a disability or not — we want fathers and sons, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters because there is no elimination process for someone who is able bodied versus someone who is not,” he said.
“It was life changing to be able to get out and do something with my son.”
Anyone interested in trialling the sport can attend open training sessions at the Mates4Mates centre in Aitkenvale on Mondays at 5.30pm.
The World Cup trial will be held at Townsville Stadium on October 15 at 6pm, with free entry.