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Gary a guiding hand for young Murri players

Gary a guiding hand for young Murri players
Gary a guiding hand for young Murri players

Gary a guiding hand for young Murri players

Author : Colleen Edwards : QRL Content Producer – Statewide Competitions / Women’s Media

If you have spent any time supporting Murri rugby league in Queensland; chances are, you know Gary Halliday.

In his many years as the team manager with the Queensland Murri Under 16 team, Halliday has become a key figure for many young players who he has helped become the best they can be on and off the field.

In his role – much like any team manager – the jobs are varied; be it dealing with logistics, laundry, gear, the team van, homesickness in players, forgotten tackle bags by coaches… but overall, he has tried to be an educator.

A Kamilaroi descendent “from our nation near the St George, Dirranbandi, Mungindi, Moree, Coonamble area”, Halliday has been part of a core support staff over the years in the QRL program that not only provides a representative experience for Indigenous boys from throughout the state; but an opportunity to learn about culture as well.

His vast employment history, which has included working as a surveyor with Balonne Shire Council, to working on a cotton farm, to being involved in a vital service areas including Aboriginal housing, health, and now, education; has been key to influencing today’s youth.

“I am very passionate about making sure we have opportunities for our young leaders coming through our school system, as well as into the workforce,” Halliday said.

“Seeing some of the struggles some of our people faced with housing and getting employment; all those sorts of things have led me to go on the journey I have taken now and using rugby league as the vehicle.

“I just think sometimes it takes that special person to do ‘more than just my job’, and hopefully that’s what I do through the community, using the football vehicle that is there, because you make connections, friendships and relationships and hopefully you can lean on them for the benefit of our families across the region.”

A lifelong love of the game was developed when Halliday was a young man who played through the grades at St George. However, representing his hometown of Dirranbandi was a big highlight.

“I played my first game of Aboriginal football; our first ‘A Day’ … at age 16, [and] for me to go back as a 16-year-old and play football for my hometown with mostly my family was wonderful.”

Halliday has also been heavily involved in the game away from the QRL representative team and is currently a volunteer with Highfields in Toowoomba. He also helped found the South West Queensland Emus, who play in an “All Stars” concept in both men’s and junior boys divisions.

South West Queensland Emus in 2019. Photo: QRL

South West Queensland Emus in 2019. Photo: QRL

“I used to help the Toowoomba Warriors out here with their ‘A Days’ … and then, three or four years ago, we were approached by the TRL to start an All Stars concept in Toowoomba,” Halliday said.

“Then, as a little small community, people got together and we formed what we called the South West Queensland Emus, so that was to be seen as a rep side for our under 16, under 18 boys and men to play against some of the best non-Indigenous players in the Toowoomba Rugby League competition.

“That has been very successful for the men, because we have played four matches and we have won three, so that’s been pretty awesome.”

Gary Halliday and Keanu Wright-Dunrobin following the Queensland Murri Under 16 win in 2019. Photo: QRL

Gary Halliday and Keanu Wright-Dunrobin following the Queensland Murri Under 16 win in 2019. Photo: QRL

Gary Halliday and Keanu Wright-Dunrobin following the Queensland Murri Under 16 win in 2019. Photo: supplied
This sort of community connection made Halliday a perfect candidate to apply for the role of team manager of QRL’s Murri team; however, he needed a little bit of encouragement to send his application in.

“I do remember my first Queensland opportunity when it came, I got a phone call from Brad Beetson and he asked me if I would consider it and I remember saying to my wife ‘why would they want me?’, ’cause at the end of the day, I don’t have any NRL experience, I am just a country bloke,” Halliday said.

“Anyway, I think on the last night before the application closed, I sent it in.

Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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Xavier Chatfield-Mooka. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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Tyreice Baira-Gela. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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Hubert Elu celebrates. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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Kmani Levi is congratulated by team mates. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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Braith Major and Jodeci Baker. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
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Thomas McIntosh is tackled while Brooklyn Stanley watches on. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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Arthur Miller-Stephen attempts to bring down NSw fullback Fletcher Myers. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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Keanu Wright-Dunrobin put in a strong performance for the Murri team. Photo: Gregg Porteous NRL Images
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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Brooklyn Stanley and Izaiah Hellmuth tackle Michael Whitton. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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Nayshua Wurzbacher goes for a charge. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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Tuvalli Pereira is presented with the Steve ‘Bear’ Hall Shield. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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Tuvallia Pereira was named the Jim Stevens Medal winner and Thomas McIntosh claimed Queensland’s player of the match award. Photo: QRL Media
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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The Queensland Murri Under 16 team. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
Queensland Murris secure back-to-back wins

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The Queensland Murri Under 16 team and the NSW Koori Under 16 team after the match played before the Charity Shield game. Photo: NRL Photos Gregg Porteous
“[Since then], I have been fortunate enough for the past few years to be involved with Arthur Beetson Foundation, [with] Brad and the family as manager [and at carnivals] … and have got to meet some good people in Sid Domic, Ronnie Tasker, Dwayne Kangan, Jardine (Bobongie) and all these fellas; it’s been good, it’s been wonderful.

CHECK OUT THE GREAT PHOTO’S By Greg Porteous

“I just love seeing opportunities for our young people to play, for our young Murri ones and Torres Strait Islander ones at this level.

“Through the Murri carnivals that are provided by the Beetson Foundation and Deadly Choices and obviously the support of QRL, we get to see these young ones come together.

“We never had these opportunities when we were growing up, [so to be] able to provide these opportunities playing in a Murri carnival at such a young age, it is so important we build our relationships.

“We get to meet some of our rellies who we don’t get to see; some of the young ones know they have rellies in different areas, but because of work and commitments and moving away from family; this brings us all together; I think they call it the modern day corroboree.

“Personally, I just love seeing the smiles on the young ones’ faces when they get the opportunity to come from the bush down to somewhere like Redcliffe or Brisbane and just see the difference and see the opportunities that are available to them.

“I just think it’s great. And if you have any talent, nine times out of 10, rugby league is a pathway for us to enhance that opportunity for our young ones in the regions.”While success is not measured purely in terms of football when it comes to the Murri carnivals or selection in the Murri team; there is no denying the talent that has emerged over the years, with a number of players now making their mark in the NRL.

“Obviously David Fifita for me is one, but you have Josh Kerr, a front-rower / back-rower playing for St George, Ashley Taylor, some of these fellas,” Halliday said when asked to name standouts.

“Especially young Ashley Taylor, he’s a relative to me, and knowing that his parents come from St George and Dirranbandi, small community towns and they moved from their communities to give him an opportunity and now he’s playing for the Titans, for me, that’s why I do what I do with our community members.”

For Halliday, the key to being a good team manager in this age group was simple – be a good listener.

“You build that relationship, you have got to get to know them, each young person is different, they all have different needs,” Halliday said.

“You know, they are away from their family [when they are in camp], so it is our responsibility to make sure we are taking the best care of them.

“And the one thing I have found through my years of football is, it is your family, it becomes your family and anyone can pick up the phone and call you.

Josh Kerr representing the Queensland Under 16 Murri side in 2012. Photo: QRL Josh Kerr representing the Queensland Under 16 Murri side in 2012. Photo: QRL

Josh Kerr representing the Queensland Under 16 Murri side in 2012. Photo: QRL

Josh Kerr representing the Queensland Under 16 Murri side in 2012. Photo: QRL
“Obviously with social media these days, it’s so much easier to keep connected with these young ones, and it’s just about nurturing them and looking after them; but also grounding them too.

“I think some of our young ones when they get to this level, they take it and they think they have made it, but this is just the stepping stone to something hopefully bigger and better.

“If I have a little hand in helping do something like that for a young fella – well, that’s great.”

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