Hegarty honoured to be indigenous program ambassador

Bryce Hegarty may only have joined the Reds this season, but he jumped at the opportunity to become an indigenous program ambassador for the club and will wear Queensland’s indigenous jersey this week with as much pride as any player.

Hegarty grew up in Samford where his best friend was the son of Brisbane Broncos and Queensland Maroons legend Steve Renouf and became almost an extended member of the family.

“My best friend growing up was Steve Renouf’s son Sam and I’ve grown up with Sam my whole life and a lot of my close friends are indigenous,” Hegarty said.

“I grew up with the Renouf family and spent a lot of time with them and Sam.”

The pair played school rugby for Marist Ashgrove, Hegarty at no.10, with Renouf running off him at centre.

“(Growing up with them) has been great for me and obviously watching Steve play rugby league was special and I’m very close to their family,” Hegarty said.

“They’ve done a lot for me and I’ve really loved being a part of their family.

“They pride themselves (on being) a really proud indigenous family and they’ve been amazing to me and I’ve loved my  time growing up with them.”

But it’s not just his connection with the Renoufs that will make Hegarty so proud to wear the indigenous jersey when the Reds take on the Jaguares this Saturday night.

Moses Sorovi is the Reds’ only indigenous player but Hegarty said all players were excited to wear the jersey designed by Murgon State High School Year 11 student Ayana Murray, a member of the Reds’ Generation Next program.

“It’s a privilege for us really,” Hegarty said of wearing the jersey.

“Mo’s the only indigenous guy in our team but we’re extremely supportive of Mo and all the indigenous people.

“For someone (non-indigenous) like me – and I know all the other guys – we’re extremely proud and we feel extremely honoured and privileged to wear this jersey.

“Ayana, who designed it, has done a fantastic job.”

Sorovi, who grew up on Yam Island in the Torres Strait and was only introduced to rugby at high school in Brisbane, said wearing the indigenous jersey brought out his best.

“It means a lot, it’s another round to represent the indigenous people and it’s reconciliation week, this week, and I’m honoured to wear this jersey,” he said.

“I’m the only indigenous player in the Reds team but I represent a lot of people wearing this jersey.

“I scored my first try (for the Reds), last year in the Indigenous round against the Sunwolves and hopefully I can score another try this week.”

Murray, a Wakka Wakka woman from Cherbourg, said it would be amazing to see players wearing jerseys featuring her artwork.

“I’ve been painting since I was 10 years old. I painted with my grandmother who taught me everything,” she said.

Saturday’s Indigenous Round match will also see the awarding of the Frank Ivory Medal to the Reds’ player of the match. The medal is named after Queensland’s first Indigenous player.

The 2019 Indigenous Round matchday jerseys will be auctioned at redsrugby.com.au to help raise funds for the Queensland Rugby Union Indigenous Program.

The Reds could have up to six players returning this week, with Hamish Stewart (shoulder), Filipo Daugunu (broken arm), Chris Feauai-Sautia (knee), Harry Hockings (suspension) and JP Smith and Caleb Timu (both concussion) to be considered.