What started as a throwaway comment on Queensland’s rural Darling Downs started to spread around the world.
In a match between the Oakey Bears and Pittsworth Danes this season, Oakey backrower Hector Hilberto crossed for a try as the social media team from Toowoomba Rugby League (TRL) were filming.
Known for their knockabout, jovial style, the TRL uploaded the video and captioned it “The Brazilian Love God loves scoring meat pies”.
Little did they know how well the moniker would stick, giving prominence to the fact that Brasil Rugby League has three representatives living in relatively obscure Oakey, population 4500 and just over two hours west of Brisbane, Australia.
Hilberto was born in Manhumirim, Minas Gerais, which by Brazilian standards is fairly small as well – only 22,500 people live there, nestled among mountains almost seven hours north of Rio De Janeiro (population 6.5 million).
Like the families of his Oakey team mates Juan Casanova Campina and Paulo Sampaio, Hilberto’s family moved to Australia and found work in rural centres, predominantly at meatworks.
Hilberto has grown up playing rugby league to a point where he has now represented Queensland Universities in the sport, and has firmed as on on-field leader with the Oakey A Grade side.
He also made his international debut at the weekend, suiting up for the first time at the GYG Latino Nines at Liverpool, Sydney.
And despite Saturday being his first appearance for Brazil, the biomedical and geology student was already well-known to his teammates.
“Everybody had been calling him ‘The Love God’ for weeks, ever since that video came out,” team manager Robert Burgin, who was himself raised in Harlaxton, Toowoomba told the QRL.
“Even the domestic officials back in Brazil have latched onto it.
“It’s quite funny that despite his team mate literally having the name Casanova, that somehow Hector is the one known as ‘The Love God’.”
With his flowing ringlets, Hilberto bears a passing resemblance to former Australian and Queensland forward Sam Thaiday in his youth.
However, he is not quite as extroverted as the Maroons legend and can be found most days studying at The University of Queensland.
Brazil were faced with a challenging pool at this year’s Latino Nines, drawn against two-time runners-up Peru and the similarly tough Uruguay.
Hilberto was a star on debut, scoring a number of tries and being named the players' player following their 20-14 win over the Uruguayans to claim third.
The team recently qualified for the Women’s Rugby League World Cup in 2021, a first for any Latin American team.