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Footy and family have always gone hand-in-hand for Reuben Cotter and this coming week will be no different, with two important events set to coincide.

Not only is the Maroons forward preparing to playing in this year’s State of Origin series opener on Wednesday, but he and wife Mackenzie are also expecting the arrival of a sibling for daughter Sunny, with the Queensland workhorse hoping they have gotten their timing just right.

“We hope to be due the back end of next week; maybe the following week,” Cotter said.

“So, we were cutting it close again and we timed it perfectly.

“But family is a big part of why I play the game and it's a very exciting time again.”

Reuben Cotter with daughter Sunny at a North Queensland Cowboys match.
Reuben Cotter with daughter Sunny at a North Queensland Cowboys match. ©Scott Davis / NRL Images

Mixing family with football is nothing new for Cotter, with Sunny arriving three days after he made his Origin debut in 2022; while the couple also got married a day after he played for Australia in last year’s Pacific Championship match against Samoa.

While his young and expanding family provide motivation, this year Cotter – who claimed the both the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series and Ron McAuliffe Medal as the Maroons’ players’ player – will be finding inspiration from Maroons hard man Carl Webb, who passed away late last year.

The former Broncos and Cowboys star – who battled Motor Neurone Disease – made his mark in Origin, showing a trademark aggression that Cotter was hoping to replicate.

This year, the Maroons launched a special Indigenous training jersey co-designed by Webb, with proceeds from sales going to the Carl Webb Foundation, which established by Webb and his close friends and family to raise awareness and funds to combat MND.

Cotter – an Indigenous man whose family hails from Boigu Island and Darnley Island – said he would take the memory of Webb into this year’s series.

Reuben Cotter in the Carl Webb co-designed Maroons Indigenous training jersey.
Reuben Cotter in the Carl Webb co-designed Maroons Indigenous training jersey. ©Scott Davis / NRL Images

“It is an important series this year, representing what Carl did for the Jersey and for so many Queenslanders,” Cotter said.  

“We'll all look to bring his aggression and his style of footy on Wednesday night.”

The squad were also shown highlights of Webb in Origin where he played 12 games, including his infamous running battle against Blues prop Luke Bailey in 2005.

“They made a little highlight reel of what he brings and gave us all goosebumps and made us felt like we were ready to run through a brick wall, so no doubt we'll be thinking of him next Wednesday night,” Cotter said.

“He just threw himself at Luke Bailey, so that sort aggression; it sums up a Queenslander, I think. Backs against the wall mentality and just going after it.

“Back up each other and look out for each other.

“It's the only way you get through it during the tough times. You relate it to the millions of Queenslanders that go through tough times as well and that's the only way you get through something is together.”


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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