Salvadoran brothers will turn up heat
AFTER a chance meeting with the Latin Heat coach at a nightclub, Jose Orellana and his brother Walter are now set to play an international league match against the Philippines.
Jose and Walter, of Salvadoran heritage, will play for the Latin Heat at Runaway Bay tomorrow in a historic fixture that will raise funds for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and support Amnesty International's work in Latin America.
Second-rower Jose, 32, lives at Springfield Lakes and is a project officer with the Queensland Government.
His 35-year-old Walter, a prop, is from Redbank and has a Bachelor of Criminology and is affectionately known as 'The Wolf of El Salvador'.
Latin Heat coach Robert Burgin met the duo at a Christmas party for his side put on by team sponsor Rumba Latina.
"We saw them both at a club and thought they had the perfect build for rugby league," Burgin said.
"We had a chat to them and we had some flyers with us about the team that explained what we do. It turned out that they come from a mad rugby league family. Walter had played a fair bit when he was at high school, but had given it away for about 10 years.
"He was quite nervous at first (at training) but in two weeks he has trained the house down. Jose has had less experience in rugby league, but of the two, is probably the more gifted.
"He's played a lot of basketball in the past. His passing, physicality in defence and hard ball running is pretty impressive for someone who doesn't have a great rugby league background."
The opportunity to represent their Latin American heritage is what has inspired the Orellana brothers to get involved.
"They have been waiting all their lives to do this," Burgin said.
"It means a lot to them and they really want to be part of it. They have given the team a lot of heart and soul.
"Their dad is a huge rugby league fan. Part of the reason they are playing in this is to make him happy."
Burgin said the brothers are different, but both are characters.
"Walter is more rough and ready," he grinned.
"He always picks on Jose and says he is the pretty boy of the family because he is into his weights and eating healthy.
"Walter is the older hand and a bit more old school ... and probably the proudest of the Latinos out of everyone.
"If we have a talk after training, he is always pumped and wears his heart on his sleeve. The crest of El Salvador is tattooed on the inside of his bicep."
The Latin Heat have played a nines tournament in Brisbane before but tomorrow's clash will be the first 17-man game they have played.
Out of the 17 players in the squad, 14 were born in Latin America while the others have parents who were born there.
The Orellanas came to Australia as youngsters and, like with many of their teammates, were fleeing a tough situation.
"A lot of our boys come from refugee or civil war backgrounds," Burgin said.
"There was a civil war going in El Salvador when the Orellana family left.
"Our halfback Mark Pereira's mother was pregnant with him when the civil war started so she came over to live in Stanthorpe."
Lock Josh Gadea Hellyer's dad left Uruguay in a boat and arrived in Australia six months later.
"He was just trying to find a way to get somewhere else outside of Uruguay," Burgin said.
Tomorrow night's game starts at 6.45pm at Bycroft Oval, Runaway Bay.
See http://latinheatrl.com for a live stream of the match.