Growing up, Bundaberg boys Lachlan Lewis and Colby Richardson idolised their club’s A Grade side; but now, they are the ones taking the rugby league world by storm.
Having played their junior rugby league in the Sugar City, they join a long list of Bundy talents on show in both the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga and Hastings Deering Colts competitions this year.
After leaving Bundaberg at the end of 2016, Lewis finished his schooling with Wavell State High School and has gone on to represent a wide range of representative teams including the Queensland Under 18 schoolboys in 2018.
He made an impression playing in the Mal Meninga Cup last year; and this year, the fiery second rower is part of the Norths Devils Hastings Deering Colts squad.
Lewis credits his local ‘country’ roots for igniting his passion for the game, while also shaping him into the hard-hitting player he is today.
“Probably being a country boy, it has helped my aggression and my ability to learn, and pick up things,” Lewis said.
Having grown up playing in the local Bundaberg Rugby League competition, Lewis knows the opportunity to be testing himself in such a high-quality tournament like the Hastings Deering Colts is something that should not be taken for granted.
“Having grown up in Bundy, you’re looking to develop your footy the best way you could, so I really took inspiration from anyone I could and looked up to A Grade players,” Lewis said.
Rugby league has always been a family affair for Lewis who credits their support as the main driving factor pushing him to new heights every game.
“It has kind of gone along the bloodstream, my grandad and dad played…I love making my parents proud cause they love it; my mum and dad get more nervous before I play than I do, which makes me happy,” Lewis said.
Lachlan Lewis is not the only Bundy boy making a difference in the QRL’s statewide competitions.
Colby Richardson is also broadcasting his talent on the big stage, with the Redcliffe backrower playing in his first season of the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup this season.
He previously played for a handful of Wide Bay sides and more recently the Under 18s Regional Queensland side; and for now, the young Bundaberg product is relishing the opportunity for more consistent top-level rugby league.
“It is definitely another step up in the professionalism, and at the moment, I’m living with about four or five of the other boys, so it is good to be around them,” Richardson said.
Having signed a three-year contract with the Redcliffe Dolphins, Richardson said the professional nature of the competition was helping young players like himself strive for excellence as they look to achieve their dream.
“In Bundaberg, we didn’t have affiliation with any NRL club or Intrust Super Cup side, so to be able to be part of a really good system and a really strong club makes me very grateful for everything,” he said.
At the age of 17, Richardson is hopeful of pushing for higher honours in the coming years as he continues to grow and develop as a player.
“This year I’m hoping to finish strong in Mal and finish the year playing in the Colts competition, and as I’m on a three-year contract I’ll be playing Colts next year, but I want to progress and be pushing to either stay here a bit longer or to push into that BRL or (Intrust Super) Cup side by the end of the contract.”
Lewis and Richardson are not the only players on show, with Bundaberg talent scattered throughout both competitions.
The CQ Capras have acquired the likes of Dyirun Johnson, Livingstone Lingawa, Max Shorter, Kiya Schnabel and Myles Gal, while Leyton Ey and Zac Laybutt have earnt their chance at the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Lachlan Patterson is on a three-year deal at Redcliffe, Declan Buckley is the starting fullback at the Mustangs while Koa Nagas (left in the main image above with Lachlan Lewis) is playing for the Souths Logan Magpies.
With so much talent on offer in the Bundaberg region, the value and importance of country rugby league is clearly as important as ever.