HOME-GROWN TALENT: Harley Fox, of Raceview, recently captained the Australian Schoolboys rugby union team.
HOME-GROWN TALENT: Harley Fox, of Raceview, recently captained the Australian Schoolboys rugby union team. David Nielsen

Fox on run for more rep duty

HARLEY Fox grew up a rugby league devotee.

But opportunities in rugby union saw him adopt the 15-man code and last month he captained the Australian Schoolboys' tour of New Zealand.

It was rugby union that took him from St Edmund's College in Ipswich to Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie) on a rugby scholarship.

And it was while on a Churchie rugby tour to Scotland that he made his pact to pursue rugby union rather than league.

Fox was a Brothers Rugby League Club junior for 11 years.

He was part of the Brothers team that won the Ipswich under-18 competition last year.

"Originally I was going to play league my whole life, I thought," he said.

When he disembarked from the plane to Scotland on the stopover in Dubai and looked around, Fox realised the doors union could open for him that league could not.

The 186cm, 108kg 18-year-old's decision has been vindicated with a Queensland Reds and Australian Rugby Union under-20 program contract for next year.

Fox's number one aim this year was to be part of Churchie's first GPS title since 2005 (a team containing Quade Cooper and David Pocock).

Earning national selection was a bonus and the captaincy an added surprise, given he was neither captain of his school or state team.

But with the Queensland and NSW team captains not making the Australian squad, Fox's leadership qualities became apparent to selectors.

"I went into camp and led from the front," Fox said.

"The coaches liked how I set high standards for myself. It was a pretty special moment."

Fox owes his success to the hard work and sacrifices from himself and his family.

He lives with his grandparents at Raceview.

His training schedule and the round trip to Churchie and back means every day Fox is up at 5.30am and doesn't get home until 7.30pm.

"I've had to sacrifice heaps," he said.

"My nan and pop - the whole family has made sacrifices so I could take my rugby seriously."

The Australians played three games in New Zealand, beating Fiji Schoolboys 50-15 before losing to NZ Barbarians (39-21) and NZ Schools (34-24).

"The New Zealand Barbarians game was the highest standard of footy I'd played," Fox said.

Battered and bruised, the Australians, also featuring Ipswich Grammar School prop Shambeckler Vui, only had four days to prepare to play the cream of New Zealand schoolboys. "It was another step up," Fox said.

The game was played in gale-force winds, with hail pelting down during the national anthems.

The shellshocked Aussies were down 24-0 at half-time before rallying. "They used the conditions better and held the ball," Fox said.

It has given Fox a taste of the big time and he wants more.

Next year he is hoping to push for the Australian under-20 squad to contest the World Cup in Italy.

It is the sort of opportunity union can provide that league can't.



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