Back Rower Pat Morrey has given up a lot to ply his trade in this year’s National Rugby Championship (NRC) with the Melbourne Rising.
The North Queensland native “packed up his life in Brisbane” which included leaving a steady job and family all in the hopes of achieving his Super Rugby dream.
Revelling in his first season in Melbourne, Morrey is already reaping the rewards that come with training in a professional environment.
“Down here I get to train and do sessions with the Rebels guys who aren’t involved with the Wallabies. That’s really been awesome getting that insight into the inner circle,” he said.
“I’ve learnt heaps working closely with coaches from the Rebels like Dave (Wessels) and Footey (Kevin Foote).
“One of the beautiful things about the NRC, is that it gives blokes like me the opportunity to travel interstate and check out different set-ups.”
This isn’t Morrey’s first experience in the NRC having previously spent time with QLD Country in 2016 before playing with Brisbane City in 2017 and 2018.
In those teams at different stages he shared the field with the likes of Wallaby-capped players in Quade Cooper, Karmichael Hunt and Izack Rodda.
It was during that time, as well as his games with the Rising so far, that Morrey has learnt the big difference between the NRC and Club rugby.
“I really noticed how much faster everyone was and your decision making, especially here at the moment, has to be a lot sharper,” he said.
Before his time in the NRC, Morrey was just a country kid from Cairns, who took up rugby in year eight at St Augustine’s College to be with his friends.
From there he was selected for various Queensland representative teams before transferring to the prestigious Brisbane Grammar for his last two years of high school.
Moving from the “tight knit” community of Cairns, to the big city that is Brisbane was a tough move for the then 16-year-old, however, he admits it “paid dividends” in the end.
At Brisbane Grammar, Morrey was a part of the school’s first outright first XV GPS rugby title in forty years in 2012, before he was selected for the QLD Schoolboys side in 2013.
A standout junior career saw Morrey rewarded with a rugby scholarship to the University of Queensland in 2014, but because of a cruel injury, he spent two years out of the game.
In 2016 he returned to the Brisbane Premier Rugby outfit and was a vital cog in their 2017 and 2019 premierships.
Morrey’s progression through the rugby ranks has been by no means easy, something which he credits his country upbringing for helping him get through.
“There’s a blue-collar work ethic (amongst country sides), so people there will value your talent but value hard work just as much or even higher,” he said.
“That’s sort of the attitude I’ve taken into any sporting team I’m a part of. I need to work my ass off and see what happens.”
While the Rising started off the NRC season with three losses, Morrey says it only brought the group closer together and helped create the resolve which has seen the side win it's past two games.
With so much resolve shown in a group which only had limited time to bond, the Queenslander predicts a bright future for the current Rising Crop.
“If there is a positive you can take out of losses, its actually brought us tighter as a group,” he said.
“Obviously it was tough at the start, and we would have preferred to win those (early) games, but we’re definitely getting there. There’s a lot of talent and a lot of skill here.”