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GALLERY: Australian rugby royalty ‘goose steps’ into Marcellin Park

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Youngsters from throughout the region had the opportunity to meet – and learn from – Australian rugby royalty this week.

Test legend David Campese AM spent two days at Marcellin Park, in Lorn, to put the code’s future stars through their paces and share his unlimited union knowledge with almost 100 eager boys and girls.

Australian rugby great David Campese at Marcellin Park. Photos; Rod Thompson

The man famously known for his “goose step”, or the “struggletown shuffle” in Queanbeyan circles, is a regular visitor to the area after being appointed the Hunter Juniors and Hunter Wildfires brand ambassador.

He was capped by the Wallabies 101 times, with 85 Test appearances on the wing, and the first player to achieve a world record 64 tries.

In 2002, he received the Order of Australia for his contribution to the sport.

Maitland Junior Rugby Union (MJRU) president Todd Sheldon said it was a huge coup for the club to have Campese on deck.

“It’s terrific having David here,” he admitted.

“He undertook a two-hour session with the local academy on Sunday (5 February) and backed up again today (Monday) for our Try Rugby Day.

“It’s not often they get to interact with someone of Campo’s stature – he’s done everything in the game.

“He’s been great with the children, too, he’s really hands-on.

“And, I think he’s enjoying himself as much as the kids.

“Hunter Juniors and Maitland Blacks Rugby Club representatives have lent a hand, as well.

“We’ve also had a number of our young reps, girls and boys, volunteering their time here.”

Campese said rugby was a part of his life for as long as he could remember.

“As a player, a coach and, now, an ambassador of the game, I’ve learnt that giving back to the grassroots level is where I can have the most positive impact,” he explained.

“And, this is a region, which understands that.

“I’m keen to mentor both the players and coaches and developing skilful, entertaining and, ultimately, a winning style of union for the Hunter.”

Meanwhile, MJRU is gearing up for another big season.

“In 2022, we boasted almost 600 players and fielded about 32 teams, from under-7s to under-17s,” Sheldon told the Newcastle Weekly.

“In fact, our numbers for the youngest age group were so good, it allowed us to host an internal competition for them.

“So, we’re hoping for similar figures – or better – when the junior Blacks kick off 2023 on Saturday 25 March.”

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