Braithen Scott was the kind of kid who would spend countless hours in his backyard pretending to be the greats of rugby league.
The Brisbane Broncos were his favourite team, Queensland Maroons great Johnathan Thurston his idol, and in front of his makeshift goalposts at home, in the small rural town of Texas, he was just like those superstars of the NRL.
Now at the age of 16, the young talent inches closer to achieving that childhood dream every day.
Braithen will play his first season for the Western Clydesdales this year in the Cyril Connell Challenge, with their opening match to be held in Round 2 against the Wide Bay Bulls in Kingaroy.
He represented the Queensland Under 15 team last year at the Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League Championships and signed a development contract with his beloved Broncos.
But, even with how far he’s already come, Braithen still remembers what it was like to be that little kid in Texas, discovering his love of the game.
“I started playing when I was about four and played my juniors out in a little town, Texas,” Braithen said.
“I played my juniors up until I was 12 out there and then moved here to Toowoomba and I’ve been playing with the Valleys Roosters ever since then.
“Since I was always little, I’ve just loved the game and loved playing it. I remember in the backyard, I always used to have footy posts set up and always kicked through the footy posts.
“I just fell in love with the game since I was really young. I always used to kick with my dad but watching the game, it was Johnathan Thurston and people like that coming through that I looked up to. Sometimes I’d pretend to be him.”
Despite being a fan of Thurston, the Broncos were easily his top team.
So it’s no surprise that the highlight of his young career is signing with the Red Hill-based club last year.
Braithen was part of Brisbane’s development program since the age of 13 and at the start of last year, that extended into a bigger commitment.
“Getting a contract with the Broncos was a massive achievement,” he said.
“Just to work so hard and finally get something out of it was such a good achievement and I’m so privileged to get it.
“I’ve always been a Broncos fan, ever since I’ve been able to watch TV. Every second Monday I’ll go down to Brisbane for training and on the holidays we do big camps and stuff like which helps with the footy development a lot.
“They just teach us all the right things, like how to be a good person. If you’re a good person then your footy improves.
“They do the smaller things first and build you up to the bigger things, which I reckon is really good for a kid.”
But even with his efforts to travel to Brisbane and his workload there, Braithen’s main focus is still at his home in Toowoomba.
He is captain of his side at the Valleys Roosters and is eager to sink his teeth into his first year with the Clydesdales.
He hopes to see his team finish at the top of the ladder when the Cyril Connell Challenge is over but outside of that, his goals for 2023 are to just keep developing to be the best player he can be.
“I’d love to win the Cyril Connell comp or go close to winning because I think we have the side to do it,” Braithen said.
“Then bigger achievements would be to play more schoolboy footy and just keep improving throughout the year.”
The Clydesdales will kick off their season in Round 2 of the Cyril Connell Challenge against the Wide Bay Bulls on Saturday, February 25. They have a bye in Round 1, which is this weekend.
Match: Bulls v Clydesdales
Round 2 -
Venue: T.J. O'Neill Oval, Kingaroy