In a new written series, we want to delve deeper into why our participants love Disability Rugby League. Over the past few years, our sides have gone from strength to strength, playing a curtain-raiser at both Old Trafford and Anfield, while we watched three of our PD participants embark on a trip of a lifetime to Australia, shown exclusively on Amazon Prime.
Please see our next Q&A with PDRL captain, Darren Dean…
How would you explain your love for PDRL?
My love for PDRL came through my love for Rugby League in general, back when I started at just eight years old. When I restarted playing, it was like I was re-born, all the excitement and passion came back.
How did you get into PDRL? – What is your journey?
I said it on the video that the RFL created a few years back. I got into the sport through my wife, who saw something on the Lorraine show, as she was interviewing Adam Hills about Warrington Wolves PDRL. Ever since that moment, my love for the game has gone from strength to strength. I have been fortunate to go to Australia’s Gold Coast and play over there, which is amazing in itself. To share that experience with some of my good friends was incredible.
How has the sport impacted your life, personally?
I am 40 now, and I think the older I have got, the more mentally unstable I am. Sport gives me that lift, that feel good factor, which is why I am so positive about it. Even when we lose, I try to find the positives because, at the end of the day, we still get to play Rugby League.
Are there any memories or times you look back with fondness or pride? (Grand Finals, Old Trafford, Australia etc.)
Wow! Where do I start? there are so many. To have the chance to play against my old best friend, Bennie Westwood, was great because I grew up with him, playing for the same teams and living on the same street. But, other than that, it would have to be playing at Old Trafford. What an opportunity that is! No matter the sport, every sportsperson would love to play there, so it was incredible when we got to play Castleford at half-time of the Grand Final in 2019. Finally, it would have to be the Amazon Prime documentary we starred in throughout our time over in Australia. At that point, I was really struggling with my mental health, and I don’t think I got as much out of it as I would have liked. However, it was still an amazing experience with amazing people.
When someone says, ‘PDRL’ what are your first thoughts?
What would/does success look like for you?
I was fortunate enough to get picked for the Origin game earlier this season, but, for me, it would be to take it that one step further. Like everyone else, I dream of putting on an England shirt, without a doubt. Other than that, it would be to WIN A FINAL! We have come close in recent years, but I would love to win something with Wakefield.
The Rugby League Disability set-up has gone from strength to strength in recent years – what is the next step?
The next step would be increased promotion of the game. We have to reach the players that have disabilities and can’t play mainstream Rugby League. There are people out there who don’t know the first thing about the sport, but if they are eligible, we can show them how to play and they can have some fun. More teams, increased participation and I think the sport will thrive.
If you would like to sign up for either our PD or LD Rugby League teams, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.