THEY are the epitome of perseverance and now NRL late bloomers Jamal Fogarty and Cody Walker will take the next step of their careers together.
The proud Bundjalung men tread a similar path to the top flight, with both appearing to have missed their opportunity when rising through the junior ranks.
Instead theirs were stories of toil, of hard work, of putting in the miles.
Now they will combine on one of the game’s biggest stages as the pair aim to lead the Indigenous All Stars to glory at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
For Fogarty it is his first time on the All Stars stage after a breakout sea
Cody Walker of the Indigenous All Stars runs the ball during an Indigenous Men’s All-Star training session at Townsville Sports Reserve. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
son for the Gold Coast Titans last year.
Rather than being daunted by the occasion, Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley said the 27-year-old halfback had embraced it.
“He has been excellent to be honest,” Daley said. “Sometimes young guys and mature age players when they come into a system and they haven’t been on the scene for a long time, they can be quite intimidated and not say anything. But Jamal has hit the ground running, he has formed a good combination with Cody. He is a good talker and he feels comfortable more importantly.
“I am really excited to see how he goes, he is ready for a big performance I think. He is a guy that a lot of us hadn’t heard of until last year. But he has always had the talent and he gets an opportunity on this stage to showcase his skills.”
Walker will lead the team out onto Queensland Country Bank Stadium for the first time stepping into the shoes once worn by legends of the game like Preston Campbell, Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis.
It is a far cry from the single mattress he slept on in a living room on the night of the very first All Stars game back in 2010.
Jamal Fogarty in action during a Gold Coast Titans Rugby League Training Session at Parkwood. Photograph : Jason O’BrienSource:News Corp Australia
“To be here and captaining the side, it is unbelievable,” he said. “Not only for myself but for my whole family, I have a big family back home in Casino. My brother and my dad is here, my partner and two kids are back in Sydney.
“I know there is a lot of people across Australia watching this which is great for our people.
“There are two respected cultures that are not going to die wondering with the game. It is going to mean so much with everything.”
Daley said watching the two playmakers, who both made their NRL debuts at 26, make the step up to the All Stars was a testament to the power of perseverance.
“That is what we love about the game and love about guys like Cody. They have passion, they believe in themselves and they never give up.
“It is a great story for our youth. If you are prepared to work hard and make those sacrifices than everything is possible.”
Originally published asMen of perseverance: Indigenous duo’s long road to All Stars recognition
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