Written by Stuart McLennan
The rise in the number of nations participating in rugby league increased popularity of the international game and ease of travel (in non COVID -19 times) has made it enticing for ‘rugby league backpackers’ to play the sport across the globe.
Luke Srama has not only ‘been there’ himself, he is facilitating other players and coaches to do the same through his growing business, Srama Rugby League Recruitment.
The inaugural captain of the Philippines Tamaraws has played a number of matches for his mother’s birth country (his father is Polish). Srama has also represented the Australian Tertiary and Pacific Islands sides.
Luke was fortunate enough to play rugby league in four different countries, Australia, England, France and the USA.
He is Head Coach of the Normanby Hounds in the Brisbane A Grade competition. Normanby are a feeder team to Souths Logan Magpies in the QLD Cup.
The Queensland business owner is hoping for another opportunity to play for the Tamaraws alongside his younger brother, former Gold Coast Titans player Matt Srama.
First time I saw rugby league
My family live and breathe rugby league, but probably my first time I saw a game that I can remember was my older brother Paul Srama playing for Wests Panthers in the Brisbane Rugby League. I was the mascot that would lead them out in which a future NRL/Super League/PNG International/QLD Player Adrian Lam was captain. I’d take my ball to each game, be mascot, watch and verse other kids after the games and play for hours. I loved every minute of it, the competitiveness and physicality.
First I time I played rugby league
My first game was for my school team, Inala State School at nine years old. I wasn’t any good. I was on the wing and didn’t do much, but we won some tournaments and I remember the first time I got to tackle someone was at Lang Park. Then when I was 10 I took it (rugby league) up and played for West Centenary Panthers. My first game I played centre /2nd row, I made like 40 tackles, killed it and then fell in love with the game. I loved it much better than school footy on the wing.
First team I followed
Wests Panthers because of my older brother then Valleys Diehards when he made the switch, I loved BRL, the Panthers & Diehards all I wanted to do was play A Grade like he did. I’ve got a panther tattooed on myself and a knife representing Valleys. I was lucky enough to win a grand final for Wests Panthers Broncos 18’s as a 16yr old and player of the year and also play QLD Cup for Brothers-Valleys at 18. NRL wise I never really followed a team except when I got older. Whoever would sign me when I took it seriously. I followed St George Illawarra for a bit when I was contracted to them and also the Cowboys playing reserves for them in the QLD Cup for Mackay Cutters but never really followed a team real diehard like many do.
First player of any era I would pick in my dream team
Gary Larson was my favourite player growing up, I loved to defend and Larson was such a great defender and tough. He’d be one and if I could choose another from Super League it’ll be Barrie McDermott, he was so aggressive & tough. I pride myself as a player being tough and Larson & Barrie were tough as nails and great role models.
First non Tier 1 country I would you like to see win the World Cup
I’ve got a huge soft spot and love for France, it would be great if they did it for men’s and women’s. I was lucky enough to play and coach juniors for a season in Rèalmont Midi Pyrenees and half a season in Toulon. There’s so much potential in France but money and rugby union is what’s holding them back to be a real force like they were back in the day. Some of those kids would kill Aussie teams, but when they get older they have an option to play Union with money & scholarships or stick to League with nothing. I’d love to see the FFR XIII restructured and be a force again. Even with the women’s team, I’ve assisted a few players but obviously money plays a big part in travelling to play in World Cups etc. on the other side of the world.
First thing I would change in rugby league
(I would like to see) A huge emphasis and exposure on the world game, from having the World 9’s with all nations involved. (Lack of) exposure is holding the game back as well as (lack of) money but having all nations involved with the ‘broken down’ format would assist all to be competitive. Another would be having the same international rules played globally. NRL etc with one referee, minimal wrestle and so on. Old school rugby league, easy to learn, teach to emerging/new nations. But I would love a World 9’s and exposure for the Emerging Nations World Cup.