Country Rugby means driving seven hours for a game and loving it

Fri, Jun 28, 2024, 1:25 AM
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker

Flanker Sam Curran drives 750km from his cattle and sheep properties outside Longreach just to play a home game for the Roma Echidnas.'

It’s that sort of commitment which is being celebrated across the junior and senior teams in Rockhampton for the annual Queensland Country Rugby Championships.

For sure, there are relocated city slickers whose hands have barely seen a callus put there are more players who breath the bush.

Curran (pictured in headgear) was on another seven-hour haul in his LandCruiser ute on Thursday when we caught up with him on the highway between Longreach and Rocky.

Thank goodness for the country sounds of Kip Moore and Luke Combs or a Taylor Swift change-up on a long drive.

He was heading to town for South Queensland’s 3pm clash against Central Queensland on Friday and a 5pm Saturday clash against North Queensland.

They are key selection trials as Curran aims to keep his spot in the Queensland Country Heelers team for the Australian Rugby Shield tournament in Caloundra in October.

Rugby is in his blood as the son of former Queensland Country captain Boyd Curran, who played against Wales (1991) and Scotland (1992) for the Heelers.

“Turning up to play rugby on a Saturday is one of the things I love most in life. It’d be hard to give it up,” Curran, 26, said.

“Sure, by the end of every season I’m sick of the driving but a few months away and I’m ready to go again.

“In country footy, it’s the group of boys you play with. You know you’ve got mates for the rest of your life.”

Because of the vast distances, he's HGO...Home Games Only. An away game in Toowoomba would be just too far.

Curran is farm manager for two blocks which are running 4500 head of cattle and 10,000 sheep after a few years of good pastures.

He’s busier these days but he still finds time for some running, with kangaroos and the odd wild pig for company, plus a bit of gym work on the deck.

“Playing for Queensland Country is what a lot of blokes aspire to. It means something,” Curran added.

It’s the traditions too. When rookies debut, they are read a Heelers poem at the court session to follow. All the verses are read just once.

You go around the team circle and everyone has to remember and recite. If you mess up a line as every rookie does, it’s a shot of rum. On it goes.

Curran Senior is now a Queensland Rugby Union board member.

“The pathways in place today are as strong as they have been. You always want a clean line of sight so a talented boy or girl from Mt Isa, Longreach or Dalby has an opportunity to progress to a higher level,” Curran said.

“It was terrific to see Renee Donpon from Roma progress to playing for Queensland Country last year and get a chance in the Queensland Reds Super W trial in Roma early this season.”

In all, more than 1000 players will be in action at the Queensland Country Championships (June 28-30) from men’s and women’s divisions to the junior boys and girls.