By STEVE MASCORD
NORTH Queensland rookie Curtis Rona has revealed how he always thought he would one day play at Eden Park – for the Western Force.
Unheralded Rona scored two tries in the Cowboys’ 16-7 NRL Nines final win over Brisbane to secure the club’s first title at senior level. It’s been a long journey to the rugby union citadel for Rona, who was born in New Zealand.
He says if it wasn’t for his girlfriend he’d be still in his adoptive home of Perth, struggling to make ends meet.
“They brushed me – I would have loved to have gone back and played for the Western Force,” Rona tells RLW.
“My family moved to Perth from Taranaki when we were younger. One day I thought I’d be playing Super Rugby here. Family? Pretty much the whole stadium was my family. I had to get 15 tickets (for the nines).
“My girlfriend was the first person I spoke to. She’s pretty much why I’m here. She put me on the straight and narrow. I was on a crooked path over in Perth. I wasn’t training, I didn’t want to compete, and she said ‘you either train hard, or….'”
Rugby union officials might find themselves kicking stones over the loss of the talented threequarter if he continues his rise in Townsville.
“I played league for an opportunity,” Rona explains. “I played rugby union through my upbringing but I switched over to league when I was 17, 18, and it pretty much just took off from there. There are more pathways for young players.
“It’s pretty crap that you can’t play (senior) rugby league in Perth because there’s no team or pathway. Bring me back – I wouldn’t mind playing with them (if they get into the NRL).”
Rona says the his last club, Sydney Roosters, showed little interest in retaining him. “The Cowboys gave me an opportunity,” he said.
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK