As our local rugby league team, the Sunshine Coast Falcons are hoping to soar to new heights during the Q-Cup season, with 50 players and 15 staff based at their home ground of Stockland Stadium. We catch up with co-captains Tom Murphy and Ryan Hansen to find out more.
Player Profile: Tom Murphy
At 24-years-old, Sunshine Coast Falcons captain Tom Murphy has been playing rugby league since “grassroots” football as a five-year-old.
“It’s a great sport, a great team environment and I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without growing up and being part of grassroots rugby league,” Tom shares.
“You build a lot of friendships and learn a lot of life lessons in winning and losing and training for a goal.”
After growing up on the Coast, Tom played representative under-school-age footy at boarding school, then moved to play for the Canberra Raiders, before a move up north to the Redcliffe Dolphins, playing in the Queensland Cup (Q-Cup) Grand Final and at Suncorp Stadium.
He was then signed for a year with the Canterbury Bulldogs in Sydney, but was released from his contract after being sidelined with an ankle injury during pre-season.
“I took a lot of training tips away from it, learning the ropes off guys who have had 10-years-plus careers at the top.
“I was a bit behind the eight-ball with the injury so I wanted to start fresh and decided the Falcons would be a great opportunity to do that,” Tom says, joining the Falcons in 2014.
A 2014 announcement that the Sunshine Coast Falcons were confirmed for a three-year contract as a ‘feeder club’ for the Melbourne Storm, meant that junior rugby players on the Coast could have a direct pathway to the big league teams.
Off the back of the news, Tom spent six weeks during pre-season down with the Storm prior to Christmas.
“It was good to be down there with that calibre of players and coaching staff and it was good to be back in that professional kind of environment, I loved it,” he says.
Tom shares that his current captaincy involves leading a “great bunch of blokes”, aiming to be in the mix of teams come the September 2015 grand finals.
“For me the biggest thing is trying to lead by example and being the captain you have to take the results on your shoulders,” he says.
“For the last couple of years the Falcons have struggled to leave their mark on the competition … so the only way is up at the moment.”
Outside of football, Tom, who is personally aiming for a professional NRL career, works as a personal trainer at a Caloundra gym, while recuperating with physio on the sidelines following a shoulder dislocation.
Having a ‘day job’ is common for most of the Falcons team, with players juggling training and games with their personal lives and full-time jobs.
But every day life is a distant memory when the players file onto the field on game day, under the watchful eyes of Falcons CEO Chris Flannery and coach Glen Dreger.
“When you’re playing on the field and you have the crowd backing you it lifts your energy and enthusiasm,” says Tom.
“I love the competitiveness and the drive to win, with footy you can’t be half-hearted when you walk across that white line because you’re going to be found out. “My advice for the younger generation would be to train hard and put your best foot forward in everything you do.”
Still stepping up to the captaincy plate during times of Tom Murphy’s absence, Ryan grew up as a “sporty” kid, trying cricket, union, league, swimming and athletics before getting into footy at age six.
Two days after completing school, Ryan moved to Melbourne for a football contract, before returning home to Brisbane in mid-2009. During this time, Ryan had made the Australian Schoolboys team and played in a young squad in the NRL trial against the Titans, before doing his time at the Broncos, then moving back to the Sunshine Coast.
He started with the Falcons in 2013, and is today the second oldest player at 25-years-old, and the most experienced with 80 games under his belt.
“I was captain last year – it was good to lead around a good bunch of young blokes who are still learning the craft,” he says.
With a keen sense of business as a property developer on the side, these days Ryan plays the game for the love of it. “For that 80-minute battle … you just live for that 80-minute test.
“I’d love to get into coaching and even the business side of the club ... a couple of us really care about the club and we want to see it succeed, we’ve been there through the tough times.”
Ryan has been part of the feeder pathway himself, and can commentate on the transition between clubs.
“When I was with Melbourne I came to the grades at Norths which was their feeder club and Broncos took over at Norths so we went through the influx of having Broncos come through, it just takes time to gel and for them to learn our culture and for us to learn theirs,” he says.
“I think the biggest thing is having a pathway so kids will stay and want to play for us and now they will because you’ve got the under-16s, under-18s, Colts and if you’re good enough you’re down at the Storm.
“With the new pathway, we will start to see the benefits down the track and I see the Falcons becoming a powerhouse of the competition, we have a good coach and good structure.”
Show Your Support
Falcons player, husband and father-of-two James Ackerman died after being knocked unconscious during a tackle in a Queensland Cup match in Brisbane on 20 June.
You can show your support for his young family by visiting www.scfalcons.com.au or donating to his family trust fund.
Ackerman Family Trust Fund
Bank Of Queensland
BSB: 124 001
Account No: 1150 0777
Ref No: 151 181