He plays for the Tigers, has barracked for the Broncos most of his life but it’s as a Rabbit that Ipswich’s Brad Zampech is really hoping to make his mark in the world of rugby league.
The 17-year-old Ipswich State High School student has signed a three-year contract with the South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL club.
It will see him move to Matraville in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs in November after he graduates, before playing in the NSW Rugby League’s S G Ball Cup for under 18s in 2019.
Brad will move up to the under 20s to play Jersey Flegg Cup football in 2020 and all going to plan, will then join the NRL club’s development squad in the third year.
He will also work full time as an apprentice carpenter during the next two years while focusing on football.
While the contract plots a path for Brad to make his NRL dream come true, he is under no illusion that a significant amount of hard work lay ahead.
“It’s a real privilege to have this opportunity and it’s going to be a great experience,” he said.
“I actually received the nutrition information the other day and it’s pretty full on, all that stuff has got to be taken very seriously.
“I just really want to be the best I can be and leave my mark on the Rabbitohs side. I want my family to see the best I can be.”
The Rabbitohs were not the only NRL club to show an interest in Brad, who was also offered a contract by the Canberra Raiders He has previously trained with the Gold Coast Titans and Brisbane Broncos.
Brad, who usually plays half back or five-eighth, has lofty ambitions and hopes one day to emulate the achievements of his idols Broncos great Darren Lockyer and Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston.
“My best asset is probably my ability to remain composed under pressure, my kicking game and ability to read the play,” he said.
“Being able to read the play helps with understanding what defending players are going to do if we are attacking and how we can get an advantage.”
Despite the many unknowns, when he makes his way to Sydney one thing will be certain, there will be no shortage of family and friends cheering him on from Ipswich as he takes the next step in his football journey.
Among them will be Ipswich State High School rugby league program director and coach Josh Bretherton who says if Brad puts in the work he will go far.
“I’ve watched him grow and develop through our program for the past five years and he has always had a natural ability for the game,” he said.
“He is extraordinarily competitive, he hates to lose and he is a very physical player who sees the game really well.
“He usually plays half and because he is a big, tall lump of a lad but also very athletic it gives him an edge and makes him very difficult to contain.”
Mr Bretherton said the first challenge for Brad to overcome in Sydney would be settling into life away from home.
“He’s been very organised though and has been doing a school-based apprenticeship in carpentry, so all signs are he’s not just a good footballer but has also got his life together,” he said.
“The big challenge on the field will be suddenly being surrounded by quality players and the expectation to perform, that pressure to take his game to the next level.
“Because Brad is such a competitor he won’t want to just go down there to make up the numbers, he will want to compete.”
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