Filipino Heritage NRL player 2013
Filipino Heritage NRL player 2013

By Michael Holt, Date:14/6/13

The weekend of the 1st and 2nd of June 2013 was a historic day for the Philippines National Rugby League (PNRL) with four Filipino-Australians playing in the National Rugby League (NRL) competition.

In 1998 Craig Wing cemented his place in Filipino-Australian history being the first to play in the elite NRL competition in Australia.

In the first weekend in June 2013 we had four, with Andrew Everingham playing for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Kevin Gordon and Matt Srama playing for the Gold Coast Titans, with Shane Gray joining his fellow Filipino-Australians in the Titans.

Being the media officer for the PNRL and a founding board member of the organization in November 2011, I actually grew up playing Rugby League with Shane Gray at Newcastle High between 2007 – 08 and in the juniors with South Newcastle Rugby League club between 2005 – 2007.

So it was an honour interviewing the latest Filipino-Australian to make their NRL debut.

Michael Holt: “How did you feel when Coach John Cartwright told you, you would be making your NRL debut?”
Shane Gray: “Very excited but heap, heaps nervous all week leading into the game.”

Michael Holt: “What was the reaction from your family when you told them you would be making your debut?”
Shane Gray: “They were excited, but my dad was definitely the most excited and proud.”

Michael Holt: “How did you feel when you got on the field for your debut?”
Shane Gray: “I was heaps nervous all week but I was heaps relaxed and chilled on the bench. Because I felt ready, I’ve played footy my whole life and trained for this moment to play in the NRL so I just felt ready to take the first run when I got out there.”

Michael Holt: “Where you hoping that Albert Kelly would pass the ball to you when you were trailing him for the last try of the Gold Coast?”
Shane Gray: “Of course I was! I told him after it happened that I was right near him.”

Michael Holt: “How do you feel having been selected for the PAL Tamaraws National team for the October Asian Cup in the Philippines?”
Shane Gray: “Awesome feeling, good to represent where you’re from. I can’t wait.”

Shane’s team mates Kevin Gordon and Matt Srama have already represented the national PAL Tamaraw side in the inaugural Asian Cup International in Bangkok, Thailand last October, 2012. But what a place to begin your International career in your country of your heritage, with Shane making his debut with the PAL Tamaraws in Clark City, Philippines in the Asian Cup on October 19 – 23, where South Sydney’s Andrew Everingham will also be making his Rugby League International debut being unavailable in 2012 due to injury.

The PNRL are looking forward to seeing Shane in a couple more NRL matches this season.

The first weekend in June was not just historical for Filipino Rugby League in Australia, but also in the Philippines. When on Sunday the 2nd of June the San Narciso Junior Rugby League team had their first Rugby League training session as a team, under Coach Tom Simpson. This group of 7 to 12 year old Filipino children are the future of the PAL Tamaraws.

So synergy was in play in the first Sunday in June, with a new Filipino-Australian making their NRL debut and 7,000km away in a small town in the province of Zambales, 75 Filipino children started their initiation into the “Greatest Game of All”!