Aerial ping-Ponga: NRL stars that could’ve dominated other sports

NRL and other Australian Rugby League Discussion
Post Reply
User avatar
TheDaBoss
Member
Member
Posts: 629
Joined: Tue 21 Aug, 2018 8:43 am
Location: C'Town

Aerial ping-Ponga: NRL stars that could’ve dominated other sports

Post by TheDaBoss » Thu 06 Dec, 2018 10:06 am

Some of the game’s biggest stars may never have been sighted in the NRL if their other athletic endeavours had held more sway.
As professional sportsmen it’s not surprising that many of our talented leaguies were gifted in other sports, and in these cases it is certainly conceivable they could’ve made it to the top in their alternate fields.
We have learned of freak golfers; a prodigious swimmer; a natural track and field athlete; a highly-rated basketballer; a wave-rider from the bush, and a fullback who could’ve been a Big Bash batsman in the mould of Chris Lynn.

Considering the huge number of NRL players to have played rugby union — honourable mentions to Sam Burgess and Benji Marshall — and the similar skill-set required, that was not considered.

Kalyn Ponga — AFL, Golf

What can’t Kalyn Ponga do? Seriously, the 20-year-old is probably the most impressive athlete in the game right now.

The Knights gun — who came within two votes of claiming the Dally M Medal in 2018 — has worryingly stated he’d love to play for theAll-Blacks one day, and considering he starred for Churchies (Anglican Church Grammar) in the 15-a-side game, and was chased hard by the Queensland Reds, that code-swap could still be on the cards.

But incredibly, another footy club from a different code came agonisingly close to snaring the prodigious youngster before he signed with the Cowboys — the Brisbane Lions.

Ponga was scouted by the AFL club at a rep league game, and after one-on-one tutoring was identified as a potential midfield star.

Ponga revealed just how close he came to committing himself to Aussie rules.

“I had my mind set on signing with the Broncos but everything changed in the last two months with the AFL,” he said.

“I started thinking about playing in the AFL but when the Cowboys offer came I thought I need to keep to my dream and make it in league.”

Having trained at the Lions academy in 2013, the club’s list manager Rob Kerr told AFL.com.au they were disappointed to lose him to the Cowboys.

“He’s as talented an athlete I’ve seen of his age,” Kerr said.

“He has agility, speed, endurance and he was tough. And he was pretty single-minded in his approach.”

If that’s not enough, it also came to light that he was the under-13 golf champion of New Zealand, winning the national championship in 2010 off a handicap of nine.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves — Golf

The Kiwi international actually moved to Australia on a golf scholarship.

He won the Australian under-13s championship in Western Australia in 2002 and was runner-up the year before, but turned his attention to rugby when the NSW Waratahs signed him in 2007.

He then code-hopped to rugby league when Manly recruitment guru Noel Cleal lured him to the northern beaches.

“I had the choice at an early age (which career to pursue) and just found playing rugby league was my go,” he told ABC News.

“I used to break too many clubs here and there so I used to get in a bit of trouble but it was all good.

“There’s always options open and I’m just happy I played it at a younger age so who knows, maybe one day... The lifestyle and the money wouldn’t be bad.”


Luke Bateman — Swimming

Luke Bateman was a talented butterfly specialist as a youngster growing up in south-west Queensland. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Luke Bateman was a talented butterfly specialist as a youngster growing up in south-west Queensland. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Source: News Corp Australia
He’s now a workhorse in the Raiders pack, but what you might not know about Luke Bateman is that he was a gifted swimmer as a kid.

Hailing from Miles in south-west Queensland, Bateman broke age records at will and even represented his state in butterfly.

He was a three-time Pan Pacific medallist, who one day wanted to emulate the Superfish Michael Phelps.

“When I was 11 or 12 I was waking up at 4.30 in the morning to go to swimming training,” he told Fairfax Media.

“I guess that work ethic definitely helped me out a lot with footy.”

Corey Oates — Decathlon, Cricket, AFL

We know he’s got speed to burn and exceptional strength from his feats on the wing for the Broncos and Maroons, but most of us probably didn’t realise just how athletic Oates was in his youth.

The kid from country Queensland was so gifted at a range of track and field events he would’ve given the Olympics an almighty shake, according tohis head of school at St Brendan’s College Matt Couper.

“He would have handled the javelin, high jump, 100m and 400m,” Couper told NRL.com reporter Joel Gould.

“He broke his thumb pretty badly in Year 12 and ran the 100m with a cast on in a time that would have seen him go to state trials but by that stage he well and truly had his sights set on playing footy.

“Corey also walked up to the javelin once at an athletics carnival and went ‘bang’. He threw it and it just went for miles. It went so much further than the next best, and all with virtually no training.”

Incredibly, Couper also revealed the 24-year-old could just as easily have been launching sixes for the Brisbane Heat alongside the likes of Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum if he had’ve stuck with cricket.

“He was a clean hitter of the cricket ball and a good bowler who could have been playing T20 cricket, AFL, you name it,” he continued.

“He was just a very gifted athlete. The only thing that would have hindered him was that he was casual about everything, a typical country kid.”

Edrick Lee — Basketball

He certainly looks like a basketballer with his rangy six-foot-five frame, and as it happens Edrick Lee also had aspirations to forge an NBA career.

Earlier in his first-grade career he revealed to League Central that LeBron James was one of his idols and he had to make the difficult decision to commit to league despite being just as comfortable on a court.

“I was in the Brisbane Bullets Academy and I was juggling both sports,” he said.

“Basketball was always on a Friday and footy on a Saturday.

“I watched the NBA growing up and that’s where I really saw myself playing.”

It’s in his genes as well. His cousin is NBA’s San Antonio Spurs star Patty Mills.

Alex Johnston — Cricket

He’s now a prolific tryscorer with the Rabbitohs, but Alex Johnston could’ve been a prolific run-scorer instead if cricket had piqued his interest the way rugby league did.

As a teen Johnston showed bucket-loads of potential as a top-order batsmen, and a junior rep coach believes he could’ve even made it at the highest level.

“You’d have to think (playing for Australia) was possible. He was an incredible talent,” former South East Junior Cricket Association representative coach Andrew Taucher told AAP.

One innings in particular stood out to Taucher.

Johnston was opening the batting for La Perouse in an under-14s limited overs match at Moore Park in 2009.

He smashed an unbeaten 229 in La Perouse’s total of 361, single-handedly beating East Thunder in the process.

“I had a front-row seat for the fireworks and I’ll never forget it,” Taucher recalled.

“No-one was safe. There were cars dodging cricket balls all over.

“It’s great to see him doing so well in rugby league because he could have been anything as a cricketer.”

Tyrone Peachey — Bodyboarding

Oddly for a kid from Wellington in rural NSW, Tyrone Peachey revealed he was a gifted bodyboarder in his youth.

The NSW Blues utility picked up the sport when his family moved to the Shire to give him every opportunity of making it in rugby league, like his famous uncle and Cronulla great Dave.

Peachey joked he had to ask his mum if the beach was a “massive bath” having only been used to creeks and rivers, but quickly found he had a knack for water sports — holding his own in competitions.

“I got used to it. I was actually a pretty good bodyboarder when I was younger,” he wrote on PlayersVoice.

“I even took days off school to go surfing, I did comps and thought I might pursue it. But then I started SG Ball with the Sharks and it was time to commit to footy.”

Paul Gallen — Boxing

How can we leave out ‘Gal’ when he has an unblemished professional boxing record of 8-0.

Sure he hasn’t really taken on anyone of note, but he has been juggling his fighting career while also captaining the Sharks.

So, you have to wonder just how far he could’ve gone if he grew up focusing purely on the sweet science.

His challenge would’ve undoubtedly been his height and reach, with the best heavyweights boasting huge advantages over the stocky prop.

Jai Field — Sprinter

If the Dragons half had stuck with sprinting when he stopped growing at 13, it’s scary to think just how quick he would be now.

The Daily Telegraph reported he won medals several times for NSW over the blue-riband 100 metres.

“Growing up, I had a sprinting background and used to train four, five days a week,’’ Field said.

“I was a state sprinter right through primary school but then, at about 13, I stayed real small.

“So that’s when I started to focus on other things. I was 13 racing men with moustaches and beards so decided to give it away. But as I’ve grown and matured my speed has come back.”
:sign: + :deadhorse: = Ivan in a nutshell


Madge
Member
Member
Posts: 264
Joined: Tue 30 May, 2017 4:46 pm

Post by Madge » Thu 06 Dec, 2018 10:27 am

I read Tyrone Peachey as body building HAHAHAHA

User avatar
jirskyr
Member
Member
Posts: 6174
Joined: Mon 13 Jul, 2009 12:00 pm

Post by jirskyr » Thu 06 Dec, 2018 3:17 pm

Madge wrote:
Thu 06 Dec, 2018 10:27 am
I read Tyrone Peachey as body building HAHAHAHA
??? body boarding

boogie boarding

User avatar
TheDaBoss
Member
Member
Posts: 629
Joined: Tue 21 Aug, 2018 8:43 am
Location: C'Town

Post by TheDaBoss » Thu 06 Dec, 2018 4:06 pm

jirskyr wrote:
Thu 06 Dec, 2018 3:17 pm
Madge wrote:
Thu 06 Dec, 2018 10:27 am
I read Tyrone Peachey as body building HAHAHAHA
??? body boarding

boogie boarding
the better form of surfing :lol:
:sign: + :deadhorse: = Ivan in a nutshell

User avatar
TheDaBoss
Member
Member
Posts: 629
Joined: Tue 21 Aug, 2018 8:43 am
Location: C'Town

Post by TheDaBoss » Thu 06 Dec, 2018 4:10 pm

TheDaBoss wrote:
Thu 06 Dec, 2018 4:06 pm
jirskyr wrote:
Thu 06 Dec, 2018 3:17 pm
Madge wrote:
Thu 06 Dec, 2018 10:27 am
I read Tyrone Peachey as body building HAHAHAHA
??? body boarding

boogie boarding
the better form of surfing :lol:

having a career like golf, would be helpful for life after footy
:sign: + :deadhorse: = Ivan in a nutshell

Post Reply