HMAS Cerberus-based Leading Seaman Physical Trainer Drew Thornton has been kicking goals steadily and is now scoring a dream come true. Most young lads only dream of playing with the big leagues, but Leading Seaman Thornton is stepping into the fray after being selected to represent Victoria at the 2014 NRL Affiliated States Championships to be played at Coopers Stadium, Adelaide.
Leading Seaman Thornton joined the Navy from Newcastle, New South Wales, where playing rugby league is not for the faint hearted. He attributes part of his current success to his time playing rugby league for the Newcastle Knights as a junior, before joining the Navy eight and a half years ago.
“While I really wanted to go further with rugby league when I was younger, I just didn’t have the dedication to train as hard as I needed to. Since joining, Navy has given me the chance to train hard. They’ve encouraged my passion for rugby league and for helping others to reach their own health and fitness goals.”
Due to missing the representative trials at the start of the year, Leading Seaman Thornton is a late inclusion into the State team and has only had one training session with his new team before departing to compete. While playing for local Victorian team, Casey Warriors, he was selected for his outstanding performance as a winger in the VRL, scoring five tries in three games.
“This is a rare opportunity and I’m not taking it lightly. Each player in the Victorian team has played for Melbourne Storm at some stage during their career. The Australian Coach, Tim Sheens, will be at the event and many NRL Scouts. To be selected for this is a personal honour. To also be a part of Navy Rugby League is a privilege and I’ll dig deep for that extra 10 percent,” Leading Seaman Thornton said.
He said he encourages all Australian Defence Force members to get involved in Service sports and their local clubs and teams. While Cerberus doesn’t have a rugby league team as yet, there are hopes to establish one in the future.
Leading Seaman Thornton believes he wouldn’t have this chance now were it not for the Physical Training Instructors Course, which helped condition him to peak fitness, and Navy’s support in allowing him to balance his full time job as a physical trainer with training specifically for rugby league.
“It’s been difficult to fit in training with my local team as they are some distance away, but work has supported me with that. Also, the world class facilities that we have at Cerberus are brilliant; it gives me the best opportunity to train and recover the right way before and after games,” he said.