You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Cutters players send Mackay All Abilities team off to NRL stage

The Mackay Cutters’ All Abilities team have some of the best supporters in the game.

The team, which will star in this Saturday’s NRL curtain raiser to the North Queensland Cowboys and Penrith Panthers match, have been greatly boosted this year by the presence of Mackay’s Hostplus Cup players, Kyle Schneider and Hiale Rycroft.

At the start of the year, the club let their Hostplus Cup team know that the All Abilities would be training regularly around the club, under the tutelage of former Queensland Maroon, Martin Bella.

Schneider, a teacher’s aide who has an interest in disability and community work, said he immediately jumped on board to help out, with Rycroft and a number of other players joining him.

Schneider and Rycroft in particular have been regular faces at All Abilities training, turning up every Tuesday and missing only a handful of sessions this year due to other commitments.

And that presence does a lot more for the players of All Abilities than just honing their rugby league skills.

Schneider and Rycroft at All Abilities training.
Schneider and Rycroft at All Abilities training.

“They play as the Cutters too so to give them that connection to a Hostplus Cup player was something I thought they’d enjoy and also give them someone to look up to as well,” Schneider said.

“I just join in on activities, encourage all of them where I can and get involved around them, give them energy and pep.

“You do see that they enjoy it. You get a few of them that want to start coming to home games for us and watching us and supporting us.

“But the rewards are there for us as well … it’s the reward of knowing they enjoy it.

“I don’t do it for any other reason than to see them have a good time and enjoy themselves and progress with their skills.”

All Abilities players in action at training.
All Abilities players in action at training.

There has been a big focus this year for the Cutters All Abilities side to play as a team and not as individuals.

Bella has been driving that, with Mackay hooker Schneider supporting him.

Former physio Bella said he sets high standards for his team, as he would for any other rugby league player, but also wanted them to get some life skills from the game.

“The biggest change in the last two years has been teaching them more of a team approach to things,” Bella said.

“There’s people here that had no focus. You teach focus, hand-eye coordination, to respond to instructions, those sorts of things.

“They’re all things they need to do to play football but also in their own lives. I want the best from them.

“We go by that saying, ‘It’s not about me, it’s about we’.”

And, of course, the other benefit that has come from this program is the friendships.

Rycroft said he always knew his influence as a Cutters player could help at All Abilities training, but now he also has close bonds with a number of players.

Rycroft with a Cutters All Abilities player.
Rycroft with a Cutters All Abilities player.

“It gives me a bit of gratitude about where we are within this community and how they look up to us … it doesn’t matter the age, size or who they are, every session they’re always excited and happy to see us,” Rycroft said.

“We’re always excited as well. I didn’t have this experience at my previous clubs with All Abilities so it’s good to be up here and see how passionate they are and the drive they have, and that includes the staff.

“It’s been a real eye opener for me. It’s become about more than just being a regular face at training, but building a relationship and connection.

“They can pop up, sit next to us and have a chat. The relationship building has been really good from these sessions. They’re friendships.”

The Mackay Cutters All Abilities team will reach their biggest achievement this Saturday, when they play the Townsville Blackhawks All Abilities side in the curtain raiser to the Cowboys’ final round of the regular season at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

Bella has been taking a calm approach to the event, but come game time Schneider and Rycroft will be encouraging them to soak in every moment.

“I’ll be telling them to just trust in the process and in their teamwork,” Rycroft said.

“It’s about just enjoying the game and having fun, which they always do.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Platinum Partners

View All Partners