This weekend we played Greece in a World Cup qualifier at New River Stadium in London. I’ll guarantee you everyone on our side was out of pocket to be there.
Unfortunately, in the game we were a bit nervous and played our worst footy in the first half. Our coach Dave Hunter gave it to us at halftime and by the time we realised they were just like us – despite having a former Junior Kiwis half and a gun hooker who’ll succeed Damien Cook at Souths – it was too late. We won the second half though.
Keeping up the fitness level is a big thing for blokes like me compared to the full-time players who are writing the other stories on this site. You get up early in the morning, get your kids off to school, go to work, come home with the kids after picking them up, dinner … and you’re buggered.
Oh, you’ve got to go to training. Or at least go for a run when it’s one degree outside. You don’t want to do it, do you? But in these games, you’re playing against guys who have more time to train. You force yourself to go out and do it.
And here in London, people know what rugby league is! These guys, wearing the Norway national team tracksuit top, they are used to being ignored or people kind of just being confused. Here, even in the south of England, people are coming up to them and talking about the game. The Norwegian kids are saying: ‘how good’s this? I’m famous!”
I’ll admit it’s probably a weird sight: an Indigenous man with an arm and a half running around with a league ball in snowy Scandinavia. You never know where life will take you.
I’m settled in Norway now. I’ve got a job with a hotel group, my son – Jymaal Sonny – is back home in Cairns and he’s on the Cowboys’ books, training with them and the Northern Pride. There are three daughters here with us in Scandinavia.
I had a good childhood; just everyone played sport in the family. My dad, Peter Kyle, was a well-known local player and when I came home from Edge Hill Primary School and said I was going to play footy, he said, ‘OK, here’s some extras we can do to make sure you do it well’.
‘If they’re not going to let me play the game I want to play, I’m gonna be better than them so they do let me’.
They are the moments I go back to: the kids at school telling me I can’t play footy and the night I met my wife. They are two days that changed my life.
When I go home, I give away all the jerseys and polos I can. If I could do more to help rugby league back home for indigenous kids I would – but then again, helping start the game in a new country is pretty cool too.
These days, out on the field, I see it all the time.
We run out, one of them looks across at me before kick-off … you can see the look on their faces, you can see them talking to each other. “Let’s run at him”.
Now, my tackling technique is all right shoulder. I place myself in the right position to use my right. I’ll leave just a little more of a gap so they think they can make it through there, then I used my right shoulder. That’s not to say I’ve got nothing on the left, I do.
And they try running at me. And you can see them talking again: “let’s run at someone else”. That’s the thing I love.