When young men are given the opportunity to progress through the NSWRL pathways system, there are few acceptable excuses for turning up to training sessions late.
For one particularly quick-thinking trio from the Parramatta Eels’ SG Ball squad, however, their tardiness to this week’s NSW Under-16s and Under-18s Pathways camp can be completely excused. With the camp kicking off at the NSWRL Academy in Narrabeen earlier today, they couldn’t quite make it on time – but managed to attend to someone in need instead.
“There was a car accident, and a bit of a road block,” Ethan Parry tells NSWRL.com.au, referring to a main road just minutes from the academy. “I got there when it first happened and there was a few people walking towards the car, so I got out and ran over to see what was happening.
“The guy was still in the car, so me and another bloke reached in, undid his seatbelt and pulled his legs out. He climbed out the rest of the way and then got up, brushed himself off and he was fine!
“We ended up having to instruct the cars to get past because there was that much traffic.”
Sitting a few cars back in the growing queue were Stefano Utoikumanu and Josh Curran – two of Parry’s Eels teammates who were also attending the camp. Curran, who is soon to begin his final year of SG Ball, has learned basic first aid at TAFE and also acted quickly.
“I texted (Jamie) Feeney saying we’re going to be a bit late, but then we drove a little bit more and we saw a car had flipped,” Curran explains. “We hopped out, started running and Ethan and this other guy pulled him out. Me and a lady were helping him across the road, telling him to sit down because he was going to be in shock.
“Then all the ambulances came and it was out of our hands.”
In total, the players were only 15 minutes late to a camp which, fittingly, will focus on life skills as well as on-field ones. Having earned praise from NSW Under-16 and Under-18 coach Brad Fittler in the camp’s introductory talk, the trio are now focused on making the most of their opportunity at Narrabeen.
“It’s a good chance to see a few new faces, catch up with the boys that you haven’t seen in a while and make some friends,” Parry adds – a sentiment echoed by Curran. “Getting coached by Freddy and Jamie is always a great opportunity.”
While the camp will be vital for the state’s defence of Under-16s and Under-18s Origin titles this year, first will come the junior reps season, with Round 1 to commence on Saturday, 11 February. All three men will do their best to be selected for that team, while Curran and Utoikumanu will particularly hope they can get through the season injury-free.
“I had a shoulder injury, so I had surgery a few months back,” Utoikumanu says. “Hopefully I can stay in the game and play as good as I can.”
Long before a ball has even been kicked at Narrabeen, however, the three Eels young guns have already put forward the play of the day.