Campbelltown resident to represent Australia

Grateful for support: George Tonna, in his Wests Tigers jersey, with Campbelltown deputy mayor Meg Oates. Picture: Chris Lane
Grateful for support: George Tonna, in his Wests Tigers jersey, with Campbelltown deputy mayor Meg Oates. Picture: Chris Lane

George Tonna first wore green and gold when he represented Australia at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games.

The Ingleburn resident will don the iconic colours again in February when he represents Australia in the world’s first Rugby League Nines Commonwealth competition.

Mr Tonna, who was born with cerebral palsy, said it was refreshing to put the jersey once more.

“I am proud that 18 years later I am putting the Australian colours on again,” he said.

“All of the hard work we have put in and everything we have achieved is paying off.” 

Fellow Macarthur disability rugby league player William ‘Billy’ Bustle will join Mr Tonna at the competition, although they will be playing for opposing teams.

“I am playing for the Australian team and Billy is playing for the Commonwealth All Stars,” he said.

“This is the first time this kind of competition has been held anywhere in the world.”

They will play a modified version of rugby league for people with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, amputees, acquired brain injuries and muscular atrophy.

The modified game was spearheaded by Tonna, who convinced the Wests Tigers, who he now plays with, to join the NSW Physical Disability Rugby League Association.

Campbelltown Council have thrown their support behind the players by providing them with grants to fund the trip.

“We are really grateful to the council for supporting us,” Mr Tonna said.

“Nova Employment have also helped us to get this competition off the ground.

“It’s good to know that we have the community behind us – it means the world to people like Billy and I.

“It shows other people with a disability that they can achieve big things.”

The Australian team head coach is former rugby league player Shaun Spence with fellow player Kevin Kingston as assistant coach.

The NSW Physical Disability Rugby League Association, started by Mr Tonna, will also host a world cup event in Campbelltown later this year.

Teams will include England, New Zealand, Hungary, Australia and more.

Mr Tonna encouraged people to join the organisation, which is always looking for more players, or support them through volunteering.

People from seven to 60 years of age, of any gender can play.

Fellow representative: William 'Billy' Bustle will also take to the field at the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Supplied

Fellow representative: William 'Billy' Bustle will also take to the field at the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Supplied

This story Local disability rugby league star dons green and gold first appeared on Camden-Narellan Advertiser.

Comments

Discuss "Local disability rugby league star dons green and gold"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.