Wallabies legend John Eales has welcomed Wilson Blyth and Joey Fittock to Bond University after they took up scholarships named in his honour.
Both 2020 recipients of John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarships represent firsts for the program which has nurtured rugby talent since 2014.
In Blyth’s case, it is the first time two siblings have secured scholarships. Wilson’s brother Angus began his studies at Bond University in 2017 and is currently playing for the Queensland Reds in the Super Rugby competition.
Wilson will study a Bachelor of Commerce while pushing for his own starting spot in the Reds.
He has represented Queensland in U18s and hopes to recover from a knee injury in time to turn out for the Bond Bull Sharks in the 2020 Queensland Premier Rugby competition.
The second-rower said he would tap Angus for advice as he pushes to follow him into top-level rugby.
“It is a help being able to speak to him about the professional pathway that he's in now and how to survive that sort of environment,” Wilson said.
“To play alongside him would be ideal, whether at Bond or for Queensland.”
Former Australian Schoolboys representative and Junior Wallaby Joey Fittock also sets a new standard for the scholarship as the first recipient to study for a post-graduate qualification.
Mr Fittock, who already holds a Bachelor of Exercise Science, will study a Master of Occupational Therapy.
“I’m extremely grateful,” said Mr Fittock, who turned out for the Bond Bull Sharks at fullback last season and is also hunting for a Reds jersey.
“It’s given me something outside of rugby and I’m going to take full advantage of having access to John Eales as a role model and mentor.”
The former Wallabies captain congratulated Mr Blyth and Mr Fittock at an official function at Bond University on Friday, February 14.
He then spent the day in one-on-one meetings with all current Eales scholars and makes himself available when they need advice from the two-time World Cup winner.
“I really enjoy the contact I have with the guys,” Mr Eales said.
“You don't want mentors to be there every step of the way but you do want them to be there when you need them for a bit of insight into their journey and how it might be relevant to your journey.”
The Blyth brothers’ parents, Leanne and Rob, attended the function and Mrs Blyth said Wilson was determined to not just emulate Angus but to out-do him.
“Wilson is quite competitive. He doesn't just want to be the same as Angus, he always wants to be better,” she said.
“We’re very proud and incredibly grateful to Bond. They really support the boys and that’s the biggest thing for us.”
John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarships are made possible by benefactor Terry Jackman, a Bond University trustee who sits on the board of Bond University Rugby.