Xavier Coates has become the latest NRL player to knock back an offer to stay at Brisbane, signing a two-year deal with Melbourne.
Something as simple as an admiration for one player could turn into a full blown love of the game.
Growing up in a household where my sisters paid as much attention to sport as they did their hair, it was hard not to keep an eye on the league.
While I followed it and could name a few players, I never really got into it, because I didn’t have a proper team to follow due to split support in my family.
To date, the other members in my family support the Rabbitohs, Storm, and Bulldogs. Couple that with the fact that I was the nerdy bookworm of the family, and you have yourself, at best, a passing interest.
Despite the conflicting club loyalties, my family were diehard Queensland Maroon supporters, so I followed suit and began supporting the Maroons. In 2011 however, everything for me changed.
I was watching the Origin with my family when a certain player caught my eye. He was a very big bloke, so I guessed he was a forward. I gathered from his jersey number that he was an interchange. By looking closely at it, I saw his surname emblazoned on the back: Parker.
“Who’s Parker?” I asked innocently.
“Corey Parker from the Broncos,” my brother replied.
Damn, I thought to myself, this bloke is fiiiiiiine. One Google search later and I was hooked. I now had a reason to watch the NRL.
In the weeks that followed, every time the Brisbane Broncos played, I would take the time out to watch the game and keep an eye on the mysterious, handsome Corey Parker and the men he played with.
Fast forward a few months, and a simple crush on Corey Parker had blown up into a full-on dedication to Brisbane and all their players. I felt as comfortable having a conversation regarding Parker’s looks as I did about his unmatched offloads, hard-hitting tackles, unwavering loyalty to the Broncos, or the fact that he is the Broncos’ most consistent player in recent years.
From knowing next to nothing about NRL to having in-depth, half-hour conversations with my mates about the mechanics of rugby league in Australia. I spend most of my spare time watching the Broncos’ illustrious history or reading about it in books or biographies (because God knows I have a lot of catching up to do).
Today you would be hard stretched to find a more loyal, vocal and diehard Broncos fan in New South Wales. Outside of my club, I follow all the NRL action during the week – player Tweets, breaking news, Channel Nine’s Footy Show, you name it.
Putting it bluntly, I live and breathe rugby league.
And it all started with a teenage crush on one man.