NRL hopes kept alive for Nanango rugby league star
RUGBY league runs in the blood of the Sullivan family from Nanango, with their next bright talent reselected by the Brisbane Broncos' Elite Development squad.
Jack Sullivan, 14, completed the physically demanding program of the first year to earn a place in the squad next season.
Like his brother Dillon, who plays for the Canterbury Bulldogs under-18 team, Jack started his rugby league life with the Nanango Stags.
Jack played for the Stags until the under-11s before he crossed over to the Oakey Bears and eventually the Highfields Eagles, the team he still plays for today.
The prop said the Toowoomba competition was a higher level due to the greater number of teams.
"It's harder and faster," Jack said.
Up until his recent growth spurt Jack would often find himself against far bigger opponents but that did not stop his audacity.
"I try to tackle and run at the big boys," he said.
Jack's daring play has had him cross the try line each game to finish as the top try scorer last season.
His efforts helped the Eagles finish second behind Toowoomba team Valleys Roosters.
"I see the try line and try not to stop and put the ball down," he said.
"We were coming first but then we lost it at the end."
The loss did not detract from Jack's season but gave him a platform to improve.
"You want to learn from losing," he said.
Like his hero Sonny Bill Williams, Jack plays aggressively and would also like to one day play for the Sydney Roosters.
If he is able to make it to the NRL, Jack said he hoped to one day play alongside Dillon.
"At the start I would like to play against him," he said.
Until then Jack has been assigned an advanced training program to get started with ahead of pre-season training.
"I do a ladder-like footwork, a 6km jog and uphill sprints," he said.
As a stocky forward, Jack said he struggled most with the distance running.
"I have to say jogs are the hardest. You have to keep the same pace the whole way through," he said.
"I try and beat my time each time."
It is not only Jack who has to put in the hard yards to help his dream come true - he is also reliant on his parents, Rob and Samantha.
Like any dedicated mother, Samantha said to see her boys do well more than made up for the hours travelling to training and matches.
"We've always said so long as they put in a 100%, we'll take them to the end of the world," Samantha said.
With three training sessions held in Toowoomba each week, Samantha said there was a lot of dedication needed.
Samantha said her sons took after their father Rob, who used to play for the Penrith Panthers. She said Jack and Dillon shared a healthy relationship which had seen them give their all to take another step closer to the NRL.
"Jack has matched everything (Dillon has done) so far," she said.
But Samantha said Jack was still deeply attached to Nanango.
"The Broncos wanted him to go to their school, St Mary's College, but he wanted to stay here," she said.