Hassall Grove's Brett Henman prepares for Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup debut

CUP QUEST: Wheelchair rugby league player Brett Henman, 44, has been training four times per week at venues including Shalvey PCYC in the lead up to his world cup debut. Picture: Isabella Lettini

CUP QUEST: Wheelchair rugby league player Brett Henman, 44, has been training four times per week at venues including Shalvey PCYC in the lead up to his world cup debut. Picture: Isabella Lettini

He’s dreamt of representing his country for years but when his chance finally came, Brett Henman nearly had to pass it up.

The Hassall Grove resident will jet off to France next month to play for Australia at the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup.

Worried about how his family would cope with the financial impact of taking a month off work, Mr Henman told the Star he needed to be convinced by his wife to accept his spot in the Wheelaroos’ squad.

“There were a few tears shed when I got the call, but the family was really stoked,” the father-of-six said.

“It’s a big ask for someone with a family. It’s not like we’re paid athletes. But the wife said, ‘You can’t miss this’.

“Since then it’s been head down and arse up, working hard.”

Wheelchair rugby league carries a financial burden, unlike most sports.

Mr Henman was lucky enough to be given a new chair through Channel 7’s Sunrise program last year – but for those who need to pay their way, a chair can cost up to $8000.

“It’s not like going to Rebel and buying a $50 pair of boots,” he said.

“It’s tricky to manage and raising the funds is tough.

“The team is scrambling to get some back-up equipment before the tournament starts.”

Brett Henman broke his back in a fall at an indoor climbing centre in Blacktown four years ago. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Brett Henman broke his back in a fall at an indoor climbing centre in Blacktown four years ago. Picture: Isabella Lettini

For Mr Henman, who will turn 45 during the tournament, the trip will also be his first time out of the country.

Kicking off on July 18, eight teams will battle it out in the high-impact sport to be crowned the world’s best.

“It’ll be fast and rough,” Mr Henman said. “There are a lot of big boys in the teams – they hit hard.

“I’m really excited to get over there and just get on the court.

“Australia didn’t do too well at the last world cup. But it’s looking like it’s going to fantastic this time.

“We have a good side and we’re playing some good football. We’re all putting in 110 per cent at training. Hopefully that pays off.”

The Wheelaroos are still accepting any donations of funds or equipment until they fly out on July 14.

To donate visit: www.nrlwheelchair.com.au

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