From Waka blue to Queensland Reds

Queenstown can claim new Queensland Reds rugby player Joe Brial as a homegrown product.

The 22-year-old, who made his run-on debut for the Reds at No 8 in their 27-26 win over the Waratahs in Sydney recently, attended Queenstown’s Remarkables Primary, where he started playing Rippa rugby.

He then played for Wakatipu Rugby Club under-8 through to U13 teams before shifting to Sydney — where his dad, former 13-Test Wallaby Michael Brial, hails from — in 2014.

Joe — who still calls Queenstown home ‘‘in many ways’’ — says he still has an under-8s jersey ‘‘tucked away somewhere’’.

‘‘I was an outside centre or wing in those days with a bit of time at No 8.’’

He also made Central Otago and Otago under-65kg teams and played in the national U13s tournament.

When playing for Wakatipu he recalls Michael being an assistant coach and fitness ‘‘taskmaster’’.

‘‘He always used to say whoever makes the biggest hit, he’d buy them a bag of hot chips and Coke after the game.

‘‘That was always the goal — he never gave it to me.’’

Joe — who recalls training on frosty grounds ‘‘where it sounds like you are running on concrete’’ — says Queenstown was ‘‘an amazing place to grow up’’.

‘‘We lived on a little farm and we’d be riding motorbikes through the mountains and stuff.’’

He and his brother Toby would also frequent Fergburger and see how many burgers they could scoff — the Little Lamby was his favourite.

In his last year here, his U13 Wakatipu teammates included current Premiers players Will Burdon and Xavier Sadler.

In Sydney he made the Australian Schoolboys side and Junior Wallabies before linking up with Christchurch’s Crusaders Academy.

He made the NZ U20s side and Canterbury NPC side before signing on for the Reds late last year.

Before his 64-minute run-on debut, he’d made four cameo appearances this season for the Reds, who now played the Chiefs in a Super Rugby Pacific quarterfinal in Hamilton on Friday.

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