Tourists: Great Experience

ACADEMY Tours see boys become men as they sample what it is like to live as a full time professional.

We caught up with five players who toured Australia this year – Chris Follin, Kevin Brown, Matthew Lees, Matty Kilgannon and Lewis Furlong – and discovered their experience of the successful trip.

You had a great Tour – going four from four – how would you sum it up?

Chris Follin: It was an emotional ride with its ups and downs, but overall it was great life experience.

Kev Brown: It was a very tough time, but you know 24 other lads are going through the same as you and you help each other out.

Matthew Lees: It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity, which the whole team made the most of, winning all four games. It was an amazing experience!

Lewis Furlong: Simply, one of the best experiences of my life. I couldn’t have asked for a better set of lads to share it with!

Was the Tour what you expected and how did you cope with the professional regime?

Matty Kilgannon: It exceeded all expectations. It was a real test of character at times, due to the amount of training and activities we had to do,  but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Every day was enjoyable and memorable.

Matthew Lees: It went above my expectation. The training was really tough but I gained knowledge and skill which improved my performance massively.

Kevin Brown: I heard how hard the training was from past tourists, so I was expecting an extremely hard three weeks. And it was! But when we started training everyone was switched on and every session was quality.

Chris Follin: The tour reached and went beyond my expectations. The full time training regime was very tough, but it was a great insight into the type of life a professional player has.

Lewis Furlong: Training twice a day was tough but it helped me massively to improve.

Pick a game on the Tour that will live long in the memory…

Matthew Lees: Winning the game against Parramatta Eels in the 80th minute!

Matty Kilgannon: Walking out before the game at Penrith’s Pepper Stadium. I was thinking about the players you watch on TV that have made that same walk and played there.

Kevin Brown: Wests Tigers before the Pacific test; you couldn’t hear anything because all the Tongan supporters were playing drums.

Lewis Furlong: Like most of the lads I’m sure my best memory is the same – beating Parramatta game in the final minute.

Chris Follin: Agreed! The most memorable moment for me was that Parramatta game. Winning in the dying moments of the game was a fantastic experience.

It’s not all training and playing though… name the funniest thing that happened on Tour!

Matty Kilgannon: Putting a fake snake in Kev’s bed and listening to his reaction as he discovered it…

Kevin Brown: Robbie Horton wake boarding on his stomach…

Chris Follin: When we found Levy washing his clothes in a plastic bin…

Matthew Lees: Seeing Rob Fairclough nearly cry as we went over the Blue Mountains in a cable car because he was scared of heights…

Finally, pick out an overriding thought or experience…

Chris Follin: My overriding memory would be when I turned around after scoring and seeing the faces of the lads; it was a great feeling.

Kevin Brown: On the last day when we had no pressure on us and we could just relax. It gave me time to reflect on what we had done and achieved as a team.

Matthew Lees: Simply winning every game knowing all our hard work had paid off. We had written history being another team to go to Australia and win four out of four!

Matty Kilgannon: Walking out before that first game will always be special for me. That feeling of pride and achievement pulling on the jersey once more.

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