Billed as one of the biggest events on the Wheelchair Rugby League calendar, the NSW Blues will be looking to maintain their four-year winning streak.
Brad Grove, the 2018 vice-captain of the Wheelchair Blues, said Saturday afternoon’s match is going to be physical and fast-paced game.
“We’re so passionate about our game and that really comes through in these interstate challenges. The Maroons will definitely be hungry for a win, so the crowd should be ready for some fierce competition and big hits!”
Grove, an icare Lifetime Care participant, was involved in a motor vehicle accident as a 19-year-old. The accident resulted in a complete low level spinal cord injury, requiring the use of a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
“About 18 months after my accident, I attended the first NRL Wheelchair come and try event in Australia. I have been playing ever since.”
“Wheelchair rugby league is really unique because you don’t need to have a disability to participate - it’s a truly inclusive game. It allows people with disabilities to compete with and against able-bodied athletes on a level playing field. That’s not something many other sports in the world have the ability to offer,” Grove said.
Able-bodied athlete Michael Johnson started playing wheelchair rugby league in 2010.
“I always loved rugby league growing up so when a few of my mates started playing wheelchair footy, I had to give it a crack,” Johnson said.
“The sense of community out on the court is second to none. We’ve got fathers who have been in wheelchairs all their lives able to get out there and play footy on the same team as their kids.
In wheelchair rugby league, each team has five players on the court at a time and, like Oztag, players are ‘tackled’ when a tag is removed from their shoulder.
“It might sound tame, but with wheelchairs screaming around the court at high speed, it’s a ferocious and dynamic game to play, and to watch,” Johnson said.
“Come down to the match on Saturday afternoon and check it out. We’re trying to build some awareness around the sport and encourage more people to have a crack and get involved!”
2019 NRL Wheelchair Rugby League State of Origin
When: 1pm - 6pm, Saturday 6 July 2019
Where: Quaycentre in Sydney Olympic Park