Two of Australia’s brightest rugby talents, Wilson Blyth and Joey Fittock, have been awarded the prestigious John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarships for 2020 at Bond University.
Wilson Blyth will follow in the footsteps of Queensland Reds older brother Angus, who also joined Bond on the John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarship Program three years ago.
Blyth, 18, wants to emulate the success of his older brother who has just signed a contract extension at the Queensland Reds tying him to the club until 2023.
“I’m very excited to get the scholarship, it is an amazing opportunity and the family were all over the moon,” Blyth said.
“Seeing Angus come through the same program, we know a lot about it, I’m very familiar with Bond and I speak to him quite regularly about his life and what he is going through.
“There’s always a little rivalry growing up and who is better at what, we’ve never played together, so this might be the first opportunity to play some rugby together.
“It’s been great watching him come through this pathway and it definitely puts it in perspective and makes it feel a lot more achievable having a brother go through that system.”
The second rower has one final exam and a knee injury to overcome before joining Bond next year to play and start a Bachelor of Commerce degree.
The knee injury was sustained playing for Queensland U18s against New South Wales.
“My short term goal is coming back from a knee injury I sustained a few months ago,” he said.
“Long term goal would be to get into the senior Reds squad and to play alongside Angus.
“It would be a massive moment for our family. Playing with Angus would be very special and the parents would be ecstatic.
“We’ve always been really close as brothers and more so now that we don’t see each other as much, because we are always chatting about what is going on, he is definitely someone I look up to.
“Funnily enough Angus is doing a Bachelor of Commerce as well, it’s just a coincidence. I enjoy the subjects,” Blyth said.
The second recipient of the John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarship, 23-year-old Joey Fittock, is on the verge of an elusive Queensland Reds contract.
The fullback believes the 2020 season shapes as a huge one in his career.
“I’ve played NRC the last couple of years, so I think I’m on the verge of breaking [into] a contract, so that is my main goal,” Fittock said.
“That is a big driving force, I feel I’ve been on the brink for so long.
“There’s a handful of guys who have gone on from Bond University to the Reds, so it keeps you hungry to do well to make it into Super Rugby.
“It’s great to see the pathway and hopefully if we can play well as a team, more of the boys will be looked at and get those opportunities.”
Fittock knows the Bull Sharks will need to put their slow starts in Queensland Premier Rugby’s Hospital Challenge Cup behind them.
If the team can push for a top four berth, it’ll help the Occupational Therapy Masters student’s own aspirations of earning a contract with the Queensland Reds.
“I have a good feeling about this year,” he said.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for me, I’ve been here for the last two years, we’ve just missed the top four and I think this year we have the calibre of players to do well and we just need to start the season quicker.
“I’ve gone from centre to fullback, which involves more directing and kicking.
“I think I’ve improved my kicking and now I just need to put my hand up and take more of a leadership role.
“It’ll be unreal to have John Eales as a mentor and to pick his brain a little bit.”