This time last year, Rabbitohs forward Kyle Turner was hoping to make his first grade debut. Now, he’s a Premiership winner, and an Indigenous All Star.
The 22 year old got the shock of his life yesterday (Monday) when excited teammates informed him of his selection in the 2015 Indigenous All Stars squad, to take on the NRL All Stars at Gold Coast’s Cbus Super Stadium on Friday February 13.
“I’m still struggling to believe it – it’s such a big shock,” said Turner.
“Dave Tyrrell was sitting on the other side of the dressing room and all of a sudden he yells out; ‘Big Dog, you’ve made the team’.
“As soon as I got home, my mum and my girlfriend were just ecstatic and proud that I’d get to play for my people.”
Turner will join fellow Rabbitohs teammates Greg Inglis and Alex Johnston in the Indigenous outfit that will line up against Dylan Walker’s NRL All Stars.
The All Stars clash – back after a short hiatus – pits the best Indigenous players voted the NRL has to offer – voted by fans – against an equally talented NRL All Stars side coached by Wayne Bennett. It is a week-long celebration of rugby league’s commitment to Indigenous Australia and the broad appeal of the game.
It is an event that recognises the need for constitutional change, the pride of Indigenous communities cheering their team on a national sporting stage and the aspirations of Indigenous youth.
The positive message of the All Stars concept is not lost on Turner as a proud Indigenous Australian from Coonabarabran.
“I’m from the Gamilaroy Tribe,” said Turner.
“Right now, I feel as though I’ll be playing for my people and my family when the All Stars experience comes around.
“I suppose not many people get to do what I do so in that sense, it really, really means a lot to me. Getting the opportunity to do this is fantastic.”
Now with 24 first grade games under his belt including last year’s Grand Final victory, Turner is looking forward to taking his game to the next level, admitting that the thought of an All Stars berth had crossed his mind.
“I remember thinking about it last year,” said Turner.
“Watching those games, I thought to myself ‘I’d love to be playing in that game in a couple of years’. I really didn’t think it’d come around so soon, but here it is.
“You’ve got the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Greg Bird and Sam Thaiday now that I’ll get to spend some time with and get to play alongside.
“It’s going to be incredible to be a part of and I think that everyone involved will go to another level.”
Asked how he felt about his rise from the lower grades to being an All Star in less than a year, Turner is as honest as he is determined to succeed.
“It’s a dream-come-true journey isn’t it?” said Turner.
“Everything that’s happened in the last year, from making my debut to winning a Premiership – it’s still a bit unbelievable to me, but like all the other opportunities that I’ve been given, I’m going to take it with both hands and make the most of it.”