Brisbane Broncos invite Barcaldine Sandgoannas coach for VIP experience

Outback teenager Mannix Hunt became manager of the Barcaldine Sandgoannas when he was just 17 and led them to win the premiership for the first time in 13 years.

Never in his wildest dreams did the 18-year-old imagine he would get a call from his favorite team – the Brisbane Broncos – inviting him and his vice-captain Brandon Hite to have a VIP experience. in the great smoke.

“It’s pretty crazy, I didn’t expect it to come to this, but yeah, it’s been a pretty cool experience,” Hunt said.

“It’s been a very whirlwind two weeks [since winning the grand final].”

The young guns spent two days rubbing shoulders with Maroons legends like Bronco head coach Kevin Walters, Allan “Alfie” Langer and “the King” Wally Lewis.

Brandon Hite and Mannix Hunt meet Wally Lewis in Brisbane.(Provided: Mannix Hunt)

Queensland Rugby League Central Region manager Rob Crow says the Sandgoanna coach has achieved an extraordinary feat for someone his age.

“He has been recognized by the length and breadth of Australia for what is so unique for a 17-18 year old to coach a team of senior reps to go on and win a grand final,” Crow said. .

A large group of Barcaldine Western Queensland football players stand in maroon shirts cheering after winning the Grand Final
The Sandgoannas celebrate their victory as Prime Minister.(Provided: Aaron Skinn)

“[Mannix Hunt] would be the only one in that age group to coach a senior rugby league team in Australia that I know of.

“Normally you have to be quite seasoned, normally it’s for players who have retired and are moving on to the next stage of training.”

Three men smile for the camera.  One of them brandishes a newspaper.
The buddies delivered a letter to Allan Langer.

Lifetime Sandgoanna member and die-hard Broncos fan Viv Johnsen gave the boys a letter to deliver to his favorite Bronco, Allan Langer.

Ms Johnsen wanted them to give her a copy of the local newspaper with Hunt’s story so they would know how he grew from young player to champion coach.

A lady wearing a brown cap and jersey stands next to her white car, the white is covered in Broncos football team stickers
Viv Johnsen loves the Broncos and the Sandgoannas.

“A little different from bush football”

Hunt and Hite were treated to the grand tour of the Brisbane Broncos training facilities and invaluable insight into the inner workings of the big league.

Hite, who has played for the Sandgoannas since he was eight, said soccer in his town of 1,500 was totally different from the Broncos experience.

“Everything is done for them,” Hite said.

“When we get home, we have to organize everything before game day, we have to do draws and stuff like that to make money.

“Everyone is involved just to keep football going.”

Two young men sit on a bench wearing brown shirts in front of white lockers with Broncos rugby league stickers on them
The boys were impressed with the quality of the Broncos facilities.(Provided: Mannix Hunt)

The bush boys were interviewed by a plethora of media wanting the scoop on the outback legend as they stood under the bright lights of Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane during the Broncos game on Thursday night.

Ms Johnsen said she watched on TV how Hunt, usually a “quiet sort”, behaved.

“They ask them questions like they’re a city kid, but they get by,” Johnsen said.

“I was talking to his mom this morning and she was like, ‘Oh Viv, he’s grown since he’s been there.

“He was so relaxed you couldn’t believe it.”

Two young football players in brown jerseys stand next to legend Cameron Smith, dressed in a black suit and white shirt
Mannix and Brandon also met league legend Cameron Smith.(Provided: Mannix Hunt)

good for game

Crow said the Queensland Rugby League would send Mannix Hunt, Viv Johnsen and two other Sandgoannas to the organization’s awards night.

He said the event was invitation-only and generally exclusive to the QRL board and Queensland Cup teams.

“It’s such a great story and an inspiration to the entire QRL board,” Crow said.

“One thing I also love about young Mannix is ​​that despite all the attention he’s still the bush boy and it hasn’t changed him one bit, which is fantastic.”

For now, Hunt will resume his day job as an apprentice electrician.

A man opens a toolbox in the back of a ute.
Mannix Hunt works as an apprentice electrician.(ABC Western Qld: Carli Willis)