Get Inspired: Goz & Ross take on wheelchair rugby league

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Goz & Ross try out Wheelchair Rugby League

Just as the new rugby league season kicked off, it almost seemed like fate that myself and Goz should pull out wheelchair rugby league as our first sport to try in our 2015 sport quest.

We've set ourselves the task of trying various different physical activities throughout the year in the hope of finding a sport for all abilities that we can stick with afterwards.

I had my fingers crossed for rugby league when I drew out the first activity so I couldn't believe my luck.

Truthfully, I'm a rugby league super fan and I know the game inside out, so surely this would be an absolute piece of cake? Well, I couldn't have been more wrong!

Yes, the rules and basic premise of the game are the same, but it is clearly very different to play.

Naturally, the hardest thing for me was using a wheelchair; I had never thought about the technicalities of manoeuvring the chair and the sheer physicality of constantly pushing yourself along.

Suddenly, I felt very out of my depth and at a real disadvantage to my peers, the majority of whom were familiar with using a chair.

However, the real beauty of wheelchair rugby league is that you don't need to be disabled to play.

The sport prides itself on being an inclusive one and at all levels of the game, disabled, non-disabled, male and female sports people compete side by side.

Gozz & Ross
Goz & Ross will be trying out a different physical activity each month throughout 2015.

This was certainly the case at Morley Leisure Centre in Leeds when myself and Goz rocked up, only to discover that we were about to take part in the trials for the England WRL squad - talk about being thrown in at the deep end!

We were drilled from start to finish and it was clear from the outset that we were a pair of novices rubbing shoulders with some of the best players in the world.

As a non-disabled player, I found it difficult to catch the ball, push the chair and pass all at the same time; that is some real multi-skilled action right there! Added to that, this is a very fast game too, so there is no real time to stop and think- you get passed the ball and you push as fast as you can to the try line.

Despite my initial fear I really enjoyed the day, this is a game played with true sportsmanship and myself and Goz couldn't have been made to feel more welcome.

I met some really great people who were all eager to tell me their stories and it became very clear that whether you have a disability or not, it makes no difference in this game. I'm still waiting for the call-up to England, but until then… bring on the next challenge!

Goz's view

It's fair to say that I don't know a lot about Rugby whether it be League or Union, so I didn't really know what to expect.

When we arrived at the venue and saw what was in store for us I was intimidated and felt like a fish out of water. There were so many players who were a lot more powerful then me and knew what they were doing.

Unlike Ross I didn't have to learn how to use a wheelchair, and it was nice to be in a different wheelchair where I was a bit taller than usual and could push myself faster.

I've been told on many occasions my face shows how I feel and it was clear that I was not enjoying the drills, but I surprised myself by getting into it when we actually started playing. I even stopped the ball going over the line a few times, which I was proud of!

Ross & Goz
The pair learn the rules of the sport

I have mixed feelings about Wheelchair Rugby League. I don't think it's the sport for me, as its too much of an impact sport for my liking.

However, I do love the fact anybody can have a go (no need to bring your own wheelchair as they will provide one) and you could be playing along with your mates in a matter of minutes whether your disabled or not.

When I set out to do the challenges it was to try sports I wouldn't necessary think of doing, so this was a great start to our journey and I can't wait for the next ones.

If you are interested in getting involved in wheelchair rugby league, visit the Get Inspired rugby league page for details.