AMERICAN FOOTBALL: After years of standing up opposition defenders at Frank McGuren Field, Darby Fahey is ready to tackle a new game.
In just a couple of weeks, the 22-year-old from Grafton will move to California, where he has been awarded a three-year contract to play junior college football at Huntington Beach.
During his time with Golden West College, Fahey will line up for the Rustlers in the Southern California Football Association, while also studying kinesiology and exercise science.
"Out of all the spots I think I picked the best one," he said. "I had an agent make a profile for me and create a highlight video from all my rugby league games, and that's when American colleges started contacting me directly. It was definitely exciting when I started getting responses.
"The coaches were really interested in my speed and aggression that they could see through the video. I got the contract just before Jarryd Hayne went over, so I think the timing worked in my favour."
Like Hayne, Fahey has never played gridiron, but he has been studying up.
"I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos of games and getting sent a lot of training videos and programs from the college."
He will also have three months of training before games start in September, and a wealth of knowledge to draw on from his rugby league career, which began with the Grafton Ghosts at 14.
By 15, Fahey was playing representative games, and later trained with the Under 20s Sunshine Coast Falcons, a Queensland Cup squad, while playing for the Kawana Dolphins.
In recent years he has lined up on the wing for the Ghosts in Group 2 first grade action, experience which he will likely put to use as a running back and kicker.
Unfortunately, injuries have plagued much of his career.
"I've had a bad run," he said. "I was supposed to go over to America to play last June but injuries stopped me from going. I got a couple more emails asking if I was interested and thought I may as well have a crack."
To get himself in shape for the notoriously high-impact sport, Fahey has been training with Yamba fitness coach Kris Thomsen at Balance Fitness.
"Kris and I have been training the house down, he's been unreal in my preparation and I really can't thank him enough," he said.
"I've also been working with Terry West, who really knows his stuff and has helped me out over the past few weeks."
Asked how he was feeling about the big move, Fahey said it was an opportunity of a lifetime which was too good to pass up.
"I'm definitely a bit nervous," he said.
"It still hasn't sunk in that I'm going over yet but once I get on the plane I think it's going to hit me all at once."