Seeing the Queensland Maroons win this year’s State of Origin, overcoming New South Wales at Suncorp Stadium, was no doubt a special moment.
But for me, the highlight of my July was the Wheelchair State of Origin clash which saw our proud Queensland side claim back-to-back trophies in a gutsy battle in Townsville.
It was outstanding and a true honour to be part of it.
Seeing people who have disabilities or have had traumatic things happen to them get back off the ground, find something they love to do, show true resilience, and be part of something special is really quite amazing.
One of the players, Peter Arbuckle, really epitomises what wheelchair rugby league is all about, in my view.
You lose your leg and you can’t do what you used to do anymore so you find something new, you put all your time and energy into it and become bloody good at it. It’s a testament to all these players and what they go through.
There were two moments of this match, which Queensland won 49-24, that really stood out for me on a personal level.
The first was finding out one of the NSW players is related to me through marriage – small world, right?
He’s married to my cousin’s daughter from Wagga Wagga. I haven’t seen them for years and unfortunately our catch ups were limited. He ended up hurting his leg while scoring a try and had to go to hospital that night.
But the other cool moment, aside from the actual win, was seeing the camaraderie of the Queensland team after the game.
They’ve made some pretty big sacrifices in their life but they were just happy to be Queenslanders and to win something for their state.
The Townsville community came out to support them, which was really great.
What I think I’d like to see from here however is more regular competitions across the state for wheelchair rugby league.
One thing people don’t realise is anyone can take part in this game.
It’s actually a sport that you can get really, really fit at and entails a lot of upper body strength.
I watched Peter Arbuckle play for 80 minutes at full throttle and he didn’t come off or slow down once.
All the hits and knocks… to go through that, it’s something the game as a whole could utilise moving forward.
We could have our Hostplus Cup clubs do training with them and use those connections. But mostly, I’d just love to see more competitions.
There’s definitely some barriers to overcome and it’s not easy to access in all areas, but the more people that get involved, the more wheelchair rugby league we will see in Queensland and that would be awesome.
Personally, I’m about to have a taste of life in a wheelchair.
This has now been postponed to next Tuesday, August 9, and the closer it gets, the more I realise it’s going to be a lot harder than what I think.
I’m creeping closer to my fundraising goal of $5000 and there’s some great donations in there, with a lot of the money coming in for me being donated by regular, everyday people – a lot of whom are from the rugby league community.
Some special mentions include Brothers Leagues Club Townsville, Jeff Doyle from Mendi Group, North Queensland Cowboys and, of course, my colleagues at the Queensland Rugby League.
It is important we do these things around diversity and inclusion.
I’m going to try to treat Tuesday like as much of a normal day as possible.
I have a breakfast in the morning then I’ll head into the office.
I’ll go into Brothers Leagues Club for lunch and to thank them for their donation and then back to the office, where I’ll keep busy and moving.
Basically, I’m attempting to do what I do every Tuesday. I might even pop down to the corner store.
Overall, I’m sure it will be a really eye-opening experience.
I’m doing the Wheelchair Challenge to raise awareness and fundraise for those who are permanently in a wheelchair.
Donations are still open until August 11. Click here to donate.