Webke shares sporting journey

FROM a small town on the southern Darling Downs to the pinnacle of international rugby league, forward Shane Webcke shared some of the journey as a guest speaker at a dinner gathering last week of regional dairy farmers.

He said that it was either cricket or league when he was growing up.

"My parents could not afford cricket gear and most of my friends were playing football," he said.

"My parents always said try to do the best that you can and I carried that onto the playing field."

Mr Webcke said he looked on high school as a way to avoid a rural career path and have a better and easier life than his parents.

His brother was employed by a bank and after leaving school, Mr Webcke got a job with another bank in what he describes as the "two worst years of my life".

"The two-year stint included being present when the bank was held up," he said. "But all this time I was playing football but with no real aspiration or intention of going further."

"I enjoyed playing and was involved in winning an under 18 grand final in Toowoomba when I was 16."

Mr Webcke said that for some treason Wayne Bennett turned up to watch the match and he finished up being signed up for the Brisbane Broncos.

"This led to a rather uncomfortable situation as it was not how I saw my life direction," he said. "I felt that going was important and soon realised that the Broncos were a serious business and I couldn't just turn up and play."

"I tried too hard to be what I thought I had to be and that did not work out well."

Even before Mr Webcke was signed on for the Broncos, Wayne Bennet's presence at the funeral for his father who was killed in an accident made a huge and life changing impression.

"I realised that there was more to life than football and went back to my 'enjoy the game' attitude of earlier," Mr Webcke said.

"This worked well even though my first serious off-season training session, a 10km run up hills to the west of Brisbane, saw me come in last."

That was not a good place to be, so a lot of running over the course by himself saw him come in first at the start of training.

"I realised if I wanted to be better I had to do things others were not," Mr Webcke said.

The first game for the Broncos lasted just 56 seconds before an ankle injury, and then a virus caused an enlarged spleen that prevented playing for a longer period.

"It turned out that I had a naturally large spleen," Mr. Webcke said. "Wayne Bennett stuck with me all the time and once I played a full game I was never out for the rest of my career."

Mr Webcke was asked about whether he was a role model for youngsters. He said that a child's role model should be their parents, not someone who runs around and happens to be good at one thing.

"If you do not want every time you blow your nose to be all over the media, get another job," he said.

"Highly paid young men with time on their hands acting like young men is always going to be a problem."

Shane Webcke is an excellent after dinner speaker that knows and targets his audience.

He circulated and talked to a lot of people present and is what Bronco fans have always known - a thoroughly nice bloke.


- Peter and Bevly Hughes