The Queensland Maroons mixed and mingled with fans in Charleville today.
No one was more popular that Cronulla Sharks gun Kurt Capewell, who was brought into Camp Maroon by coach Kevin Walters as the 20th man.
The Charleville junior, who last visited the town during the off-season for the Drought Relief tour, could not move more than two steps without someone yelling out ‘Capes’ and having a good chat.
“All my support is out here, which has helped me get to where I am today,” Capewell said.
“It has been good, with a fair few familiar faces. I thank them all for coming out.”
Capewell said he was still speechless about being brought into camp with Anthony Milford.
“It was pretty special,” Capewell said.
“I was lost for words to get the call up. It’s unbelievable.
“To not only be named on the extended bench, and be part of the squad and hang around the team, but to also have a fan day in Charleville – you know, we never get any teams out this way… for me to be part of it, is unbelievable.”
The 25-year-old said the visit was just as beneficial for the Maroons as it was for fans.
“It’s good for the boys to come out here and see the type of support – people are very passionate about rugby league in western Queensland,” Capewell said.
“Rugby league is huge out here. It’s a tough thing to keep going… it relies on the community and people in the community to really put their hand up and volunteer their time.
“For the QRL to do something like this and the Maroons to come out here, it reignites that fire a little bit in all these kids… they’re all going to go and play next season.
"Hopefully it gets a few of the parents moving and keep it all going.”
Capewell said he aimed to keep putting his best foot forward on the football field to inspire the next generation of young players.
“I’ll hopefully just continue to play good footy,” Capewell said.
“It’s a dream to be part of this squad… if I do get my chance, I need to be ready, so my aim is to continue to play some good footy for my club, and learn as much as I can while I’m in camp."
Murweh Shire Council’s Shaun ‘Zoro’ Radnedge – one of the driving forces behind rugby league in the community - said the Maroons Fan Day at Charleville Showgrounds, including the training session, had been “bloody unreal to be honest”.
“It’s been the perfect day, with people everywhere,” Radnedge said.
“Today is huge - especially when things are pretty tough. It doesn’t look like we’re in the middle of a drought at the moment, but it’s only been the last six of seven weeks we’ve had a little bit of rain.
“The community is still doing it pretty tough. It’s good for the Maroons to come out.
“Rugby league holds this place together. We play our competition pretty early and I make it pretty social with the boys, so it’s not just about playing football – it’s about bonding together and if you’ve got a problem, talking to your mate.
“Rugby league holds towns together.”
Radnedge said it had been great to see Capewell here with the Maroons.
“Great to see Kurty Capewell - he’s a kid who has come through our system,” Radnedge said.
“It’s great to see him climbing the ladder. To see him training - I know he’s stoked to be here, and for these fellas to realise it’s not that far away if you want to put the work in.
“Hopefully we’re showing the harder you work, they more you get out of it.”