From Backyard to Big Time for Grevsmuhl
Already one of the NRL's most successful rookies, South Sydney forward Chris Grevsmuhl has both figuratively and literally travelled a long way to get to where he is today.
Winning the Charity Shield, NRL All Stars, Auckland Nines and the World Club Challenge before even stepping out for his NRL debut, Grevsmuhl is a world away from the classic backyard footy days at home, in the small rural Queensland town of Hughenden.
Home to a tick over 1000 people, Hughenden hosted the Grevsmuhl family's backyard battles, with sport –mainly rugby league – playing a huge part in the 22-year-old's childhood days where he played for the Hughenden Hawks.
"Just sports in general were a huge thing for us growing up in such a small town. My brothers and I just loved playing sport and all loved football. It's good to be a part of it now considering how much I loved it as a kid and talked about it and mucked around in the backyard," Grevsmuhl told NRL.com.
"I just loved running around with a footy and playing my big brother Daniel in the backyard. We'd always have contests and no-one would like losing so there were a few blues but that's where my love for it all pretty much started for me."
380km west of Townsville, Hughenden's isolation meant that Grevsmuhl and his junior teammates would be travelling at least an hour, and as far as the bright lights of the unofficial North Queensland capital, to play rugby league.
It didn't perturb young Grevsmuhl though, because deep down he knew a career in rugby league was calling.
"We would play out of town every second week so we had to do a fair chunk of travelling but I've always enjoyed playing regardless because I knew it's what I wanted to do when I got older," Grevsmuhl said.
"We would travel to Townsville here or there which would take four hours and also Charters Towers which is three hours away. We would be travelling at a minimum probably 70 minutes for an away game but we loved it as kids and enjoyed everything about it."
Eventually the travel got all too much though, and to have a realistic shot at playing in the NRL, a 15-year-old Grevsmuhl and his grandmother Coral moved to Townsville so he could go through his last three years of high school at Ignatius Park College.
Picked up by the North Queensland Cowboys where he played Holden Cup and Intrust Super Cup, a knee reconstruction saw Grevsmuhl make a decision that would change his life forever.
"When I did my knee in, I was lucky enough that Madge [Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire] came up to Townsville and spoke to me and told me there was an opportunity here at Redfern," Grevsmuhl said.
"I jumped at the occasion and I'm glad I made the decision to come."
With Grevsmuhl set to line up for his third NRL game this weekend against the Wests Tigers, his decision to move to Sydney has been more than justified.
"To finally be playing first grade makes everything all the worthwhile," he added.
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This story first appeared on NRL.com