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Sonny days ahead for rising Broncos talent Willison

Broncos forward Xavier Willison only played his first game of rugby league a few years ago, growing up instead as a 'union boy' who wanted nothing more than to be an All Black.

But after another impressive performance in Round 6 where he ran for 181 metres and scored a try, all the while looking every bit the natural on a rugby league field, the powerhouse prop's future is looking bright for Brisbane's forward pack.

“Growing up, I was mostly a union boy in New Zealand ... definitely, that was my dream to be an All Black," Willison said after his side's win over the Dolphins.

“First thing as a career, kids say they want to be everything, but I wanted to be an All Black.

“It's actually a pretty crazy story (about switching to league). I was playing union and I'd never even played rugby league. My mate asked me if I wanted to come (because) they needed numbers for a rugby league team and then I slowly got picked up from there.

“I was playing for a team called Waicoa Bay (and was spotted by head of recruitment and pathways Simon Scanlan). The Broncos actually brought me over, I did [have move to Australia], since the age of 15, I've been here."

Xavier Willison Try

When attending Palm Beach Currumbin, Willison captained the school side to the Allan Langer Cup trophy win in 2020, and said seeing how a New Zealand sporting icon was able to perform in both codes was an inspiration. 

“Sonny Bill was probably my idol; I was switching codes (like he did), so that's what I wanted to do," Willison said. 

“(As a player I liked) his defence, his hits and also his offloads."

Making his NRL debut in 2021, Willison was in good form last season, playing in seven games, but missed his opportunity to be part of Brisbane's run in the finals after injury again struck.

Earlier this year, Willison detailed some of his injury setbacks in his short career - which has also included gaining experience on the international level with Cook Islands - but maintained a positive outlook.

“I've had two ACLs and last year I did my syndesmosis in the last round game," Willison said. 

"So, mostly leg injuries, but I've just had to go through rehab and have done what I can.

"(Missing the finals) was the worst timing, but everything happens for a reason.

"And I just have to trust the process and hopefully we come back for grand final this year, and hopefully I'm available."

Bronco Xavier Willison was all business for the Māori

Upon his return from injury this year, Broncos fans got a glimpse of what Willison could do when he played for the Māori All Stars, taking his cues from his mentors in the Brisbane team.

“Payne [Haas] has been a really good mentor, I’m slowing learning off him and he's teaching me as I go," Willison said.

“I've still got a lot to learn and he's been really good.

“And Patty Carrigan actually.

“I am still learning the game and slowly getting better and hopefully get my minutes up and have longer minutes."

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.

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