One of Gold Coast sport’s most unexpected family reunions will take place while the Tweed Heads Seagulls are in Hawaii for their Ohana Cup meeting with Ipswich Jets.
Seagulls captain Sam Meskell is over the moon that not only will he get the chance to catch up with younger brother Ryan who is attending the University of Hawaii; but he will see the college football kicker play before a packed at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
The story of Ryan Meskell, 22, is quite extraordinary.
He is former Gold Coast Titans league representative at Cyril Connell Cup (Under 16) level who played rugby league and soccer until his late teens when he had to concentrate on soccer after representing Australian Schoolboys and graduating to state league level.
He played two seasons in the US, in Missouri, but was forced to return home when eligibility rules were altered.
Despite returning to the Gold Coast side, he did not give up on his dream to return to the USA – never thinking it would be in the sport of American Football.
Sam, three years older and as proud as a brother can be, takes up the story.
“He was shattered when he couldn’t go back to Missouri, but he spoke to a few people and the idea of kicking in gridiron came up,” Sam reflects.
“He got in touch with a coach in Australia who had played in the NFL and sent him a few videos of him kicking.
“He said his group were going to be on the Gold Coast if he wanted to pay for a session.
“Ryan went pretty well and then they said he could go down to Melbourne and train for a couple of months. They said there were no guarantees, but a lot of universities get their kickers through them.
“He did pretty well again and Hawaii were looking for kicker and he got a scholarship. Amazing really.”
It just so happened the Rainbow Warriors (the team’s famous name) will play St Jose State on Saturday night (Hawaiian time), just 24 hours after the Seagulls take on the Jets.
And the Australian league teams will be guests at the 50,000-capacity stadium.
“It’s pretty crazy how it has worked out,” Sam said. “They are home the day after we play when he could have been anywhere in the country, so the timing was lucky and it will be awesome.”
Ryan is one of three kickers in the Rainbow Warriors squads, used for long range field goals and kick-offs. There is a punter who is also Australian, and a short-range kicker.
The brothers are each other’s greatest supporters and they speak at least weekly. And Sam admits his younger sibling is an inspiration to him.
“It’s pretty impressive what Ryan has done,” he said.
“He has had a few setbacks, whether in soccer or rugby league, but he is a good example of someone chasing something and achieving it.
“It’s certainly good motivation for me; I can definitely see that if you work hard enough you can put yourself in the right position to do it.”