THEY are basically Australian oztag stalwarts, but don’t try telling a Port Macquarie national quartet that you ever become used to representing your country.
Greg Smith, Steve VanGemert, Brad Deegenaars and Greg Gleeson will all proudly once again pull on the green at gold at this year’s World Cup.
Smith, a state and national representative regular, said the Hastings region would also have coach Dave Bradley rewarded for his success.
Bradley will hope to pilot the Australians to back-to-back tournament success after they won it in 2015 on the Sunshine Coast.
“The thing that is the most special about this one is having Dave Bradley as our coach,” Smith said.
“He’s put in a lot of effort and coached us over the years at state and national titles.
“He’s the reason why that team has achieved what it’s achieved.
“Everything is on the back of what he does for us and should have come a long time ago.”
Dave Bradley is the reason why the team has achieved what it’s achieved.Greg Smith
Smith will run around in his third World Cup and the opportunity to sign off in style up the road at Coffs Harbour would be a motivating factor.
“Because of the age we’re getting to now, the body is starting to feel it so this could be my last one,” he said.
“It will be special to have my family there because often it’s a long distance for them to travel to watch.”
Commitment and self-motivation to be in the best shape possible were the main challenges for the regional representatives in a national side.
“We’ve got to travel to Sydney unfortunately to do the training so we’ve still got to do the hard yards being the regional players,” Smith said.
“You’ve got to stay fit because by this stage everyone is pretty skillful across the board and you don’t get into the squad unless you’ve got a certain amount of oztag skills and abilities.
“It comes down to the body, who’s the fittest and who’s still running on the Sunday when it’s finals time.”
You’ve got to stay fit because by this stage everyone is pretty skillful across the board and you don’t get into the squad unless you’ve got a certain amount of oztag skills and abilities.Greg Smith
By the time the tournament starts on November 1, the Australian team will only have had three compulsory training sessions together.
“It is a challenge because it’s hard to get blokes from all over the country together at once, but most of the players know each other from playing together for years so that helps,” Smith said.
Australia are likely to be challenged by strong teams such as New Zealand, Samoa and an Australian Indigenous side.
“We’ll have a tough draw because we’ll have the Aussie Indigenous side which will be strong and has a lot of ex-NRL players,” Smith said.
“We know they’ll be fast and skillful.
“The Kiwis are always strong, Samoa is pretty good and it’ll be interesting to see if there are any ex-pat sides as well.”