Don keen to inspire next generation
RUGBY LEAGUE: When Gold Coast Titans flyer Anthony Don sat staring out of the windows at Grafton High School, never did he think a dream rugby league career could come true.
A late bloomer in the sport, Don didn't take the field competitively with the Grafton Ghosts until late in his teens.
But he was a natural, and through a delicate mix of rare talent and hard work, the outside back climbed his way through the ranks at Burleigh before going on to earn a late call-up to the NRL.
He was honest proof that a pathway existed between the Clarence Valley and the NRL.
Now, the Titans' equal-leading try-scorer is ready to further strengthen that bond with the region, and hopefully inspire the next generation to follow in his footsteps.
Don will return to the Clarence Valley next week as he visits seven schools in the region across a three-day tour. He will be joined by NRL development officers for the trip, and will also visit Grafton Ghosts and Clarence Coast Magpies junior training.
"We just want to spread the message of rugby league and hopefully grow the game in the regions,” Don said. "The Clarence Valley is one of those areas that doesn't get a lot of exposure to top level rugby league players.
"I am really proud of where I came from, and I love being able to play the game I love professionally. To marry those two things up is great.”
Since he made the step up to the top grade almost six years ago, Don believes it has become easier for juniors to follow the path to the top grade.
The development of the Titans' Elite Development Squad and the recent commitment between the club and the Northern Rivers region has only helped local juniors.
"I think there is a direct pathway, but it is about following your dreams,” he said. "If you love the game and you love playing it should not be hard.
"It is just about having that passion and that right mentality and just getting in and doing the hard yards.”
Don will be part of a fundraising night for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service with Titans coach Garth Brennan and Ghosts leaders Danny Wicks and Clint Greenshields in a panel-style talk at the GDSC on Wednesday, February 6.