You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
In the spotlight: John Radel

John Radel can be an overthinker.

So when Wynnum Manly Seagulls Hostplus Cup coach Mat Head rang the Hastings Deering Colts prop to tell him he was getting a promotion to Cup last week, just three hours before kick-off, the lack of warning may have been a blessing in disguise.

Radel, who is in his third year of Colts footy, made his Cup debut last week in Round 10 against the PNG Hunters, coming off the bench after another player pulled out at the last-minute due to illness.

It was a moment he hoped would come in 2023, but he didn’t expect it last Saturday.

“I didn’t even do captain’s run for that game,” Radel said of his Cup debut.

“I found out 6.30pm on Friday night that I was 18th man and then found out midday on Saturday that I was actually playing because someone pulled out sick.

“I have been training a bit with Cup this year so I was hoping to get a look in at some point but I definitely didn’t see that game coming.

“I tend to overthink and get stressed about things like that so it worked in my favour. If I had a week to think about, I could have been overthinking it, but I didn’t have time to think too hard about it.

“PNG are very physical side and they’ve got a good reputation for that so it’s obviously in the back of your head in the lead up to it.

“But once you get out there you don’t have time to think who’s running at you and how big and strong they are.

“As soon as you get your first touch or make your first involvement, everything is muscle memory.”

John Radel in Round 1 for the Wynnum Manly Hastings Deering Colts team. Photo: Jorja Brinums/QRL
John Radel in Round 1 for the Wynnum Manly Hastings Deering Colts team. Photo: Jorja Brinums/QRL

The first people that Radel rang after he hung up from his conversation with Head were his parents, back at home on a cattle property in Taroom, in the Western Downs region.

They didn’t have enough time to make it to BMD Kougari Oval for their son’s debut, but they did huddle around the computer and watched his match via

Radel will go back to Colts this Saturday, to help his side in a huge match against the competition-leading Tweed Seagulls.

But he won’t forget his Cup experience anytime soon and has a great desire to return to that level when the time is right.

“I’m a proud Wynnum boy,” Radel said.

“I’ve been here for a number of years and I was really happy to my Cup debut through this club.

“To be able to run out there in front of the Chook Pen, being a home game alongside some really handy footballers, getting to be in that environment, it definitely makes you hungry for more.

“It’s added to the fire.”

Heavy lifter: John Radel

The 20-year-old said he started playing rugby league as soon as he was allowed, joining the Wandoan Wildcats at the age of six.

Such was Radel and his family’s dedication to the game, that he would travel anywhere between an hour to an hour-and-a-half just for training and home games.

With no teams in the small country town of Taroom, Wandoan was the best place for him to play and he continued to do so until he moved to Brisbane in Year 8. 

A boarder at St Peter’s Lutheran College, Radel played club league with the West Brisbane Panthers from under 13s to under 16s and joined Wynnum Manly’s Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup squad in 2020 – the season, however, was eventually cancelled due to COVID-19.

But such was his love of the Seagulls that once Radel graduated Year 12, the apprentice carpenter opted to stay in Brisbane, making his long-awaited Mal Meninga debut in 2021. He joined the Colts in the same year.

“I’ve always taken it pretty seriously,” Radel said of his dedication to rugby league.

“I’m a pretty competitive person and like to try and win when I can and the best way I can do that is to take things seriously. So, from a pretty young age, I took it pretty seriously.”

Having also represented Queensland Schoolboys and Queensland Country Under 16 in 2019, Radel said the greatest influences on his career so far are his parents.

“Mum and dad both loved rugby league a lot,” he said.

“Dad played footy his whole life and mum loved watching it and watching dad when he played footy so I think they thought it would keep us out of trouble and wanted to get us playing footy.

“My old man, he was the one who got me into footy from a young age and I didn’t get to see him play much footy so I wouldn’t know, but from what I’ve heard he was a handy footballer himself.

“He’s a hardworking bloke and that's the attitude I want to have on the footy field.

“I’ve tried to soak in everything he’s told me. He’s a hardworking fella … Mum is too. They’ve worked so hard for me and my siblings to be in the positions that we are so you have to take in what they’re saying.

“It’s a pretty normal thing out there (in Taroom). The long hours in the car, people don’t think twice about it.

“They love footy and they don’t see it as a sacrifice. It is still a massive sacrifice obviously, but it’s a strong rugby league community out west.”

Now Radel hopes to continue going from strength to strength.

His first goal this season was to play with more aggression.

“I’ve focused more on my work rate in the past but to play against men you have to be aggressive or you’ll fall behind,” Radel said.

“That was my biggest goal, was to develop aggression and be more dominant.”

And beyond that, Radel – like most young footballers – hopes to one day play on the biggest stage of all.

“Every kid dreams to have a game in the NRL at some point so that’s obviously the big goal for me but there’s a lot in between,” he said.

“The journey can be so long and so difficult but I’m prepared to put in the hard yards and go as long as it takes to get that point. I’d love to play in the NRL someday.”

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