Big Indian looking to take strides for league
At six-foot-two and 105kg, Bundaberg Rugby League player Nick Samra is one of the most physically imposing Indians you're likely to meet.
But Samra knows he's not the only Indian playing the sport – and quickly confesses to knowing one who is even bigger.
"My cousin Byron Begeda is about six-foot-nine and somewhere around 120kg," says Samra.
"He was playing rugby league in the South Burnett area and had some interest from the Gold Coast Titans, but had a motorbike accident and shattered his ankle.
"I'm hopeful we could play together if we get this idea of an Indian team up and running."
India was floated as an entrant at this year's Emerging Nations Rugby League World Championship, but has since withdrawn.
There have been several attempts to get the game up and running both domestically in India and in Indian populations abroad – and Samra is keen to lend a hand going forward.
"I didn't come across any other Indians when I first played junior rugby league and I kind of had it as a dream back then to be the first Indian to play NRL," said Samra, now an exercise physiologist in Bundaberg.
"Looking around the NRL there haven't been any easily identifiable role models for that community, although I'm sure there are more links than people are aware of."
Samra's passion to identify other Indian-heritage players and help give the community a more visible presence in the sport has been partly inspired by childhood friend Seb Martinez, who has travelled to represent Colombia's newly-formed team several times in recent seasons.
The pair grew in Bundaberg, before leaving at around the same point in time to study at University of the Sunshine Coast.
Samra has returned this year with work to link with Across The Waves, and is scheduled to run out with them when they face Isis Devils in the semi-finals next weekend.
"I came back to Across the Waves because Antonio Kaufusi was here and I thought it'd be great to play alongside a former Australian and Queensland representative," he says.
"I played with the other Kaufusi brothers when I was younger.
"I tried out with Redcliffe Dolphins Colts a few years back but suffered a bulging disc in my neck in a trial and that took a while to recover from.
"There were a few sessions spent trying to crack Sunshine Coast Falcons and Norths Devils, but nothing came of it and then I went to Kawana and Valleys.
"Now I'm looking for something cool I could be involved in and help grow the game.
"I'm interested to find out about other Indians playing the sport and how they got into it."
Samra has since been put in touch with Josh Naidu, who helped start Ethnic Rugby League (pictured above) in Auckland, which allows players from non-traditional league nations to compete on even terms and learn the game in a supportive environment.
Those interested in helping form an Indian heritage team can contact Nick Samra at firstname.lastname@example.org