Ivan Petelo takes his next big step in his footy
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Whitsundays may not field any players in the current State of Origin series but the region is still about to welcome its very own Queensland star.
Whitsunday Brahmans' boom forward Ivan Petelo has been named in the XXXX Queensland Rangers team.
The selection comes on the back of Petelo's trip to the Gold Coast with the Northern Marlins representative team, where they played the QRL Divisional Championships on the Gold Coast.
While the Marlins didn't win any games, Petelo impressed selectors enough to be one of four northern players selected in the 17-man team.
Petelo, 26, will join players from right across Queensland, including a host of players from the Queensland Cup, to take on the New South Wales Ron Massey Cup representative team on July 24 at the Gold Coast.
He said he was shocked when he heard the news.
"I found out on Saturday morning at 6am with messages from team-mates saying congratulations," he said.
"I flicked through and didn't know what they were talking about. One of the boys tagged me on Facebook to the link of the team.
"I was pretty stoked, I didn't think I was going to get picked."
He has been selected as the starting lock but says he'll play wherever is best for the team.
"Back in New Zealand I played rugby union. When I first played league I was a winger or centre," he said.
"Then they put me in the front row. I prefer whatever's good for the team."
His selection is not surprising when you consider where he's come from.
Petelo grew up in New Zealand playing rugby union before switching to rugby league and playing with the New Zealand under-20s team. At one point he was even contracted to the NRL. He moved from his home country to Sydney to pursue his dream.
Things didn't quite work out and three years ago he found himself moving to Airlie Beach and taking a spot with the Marlins.
"I played rugby; that was my job before," he said.
"Airlie Beach is nice and quiet. There's no traffic, it's not that busy compared to Sydney."
Petelo now works as a removalist and plays footy on the side. For now it's back to the Marlins for him.
"I reckon we've got a pretty good chance this year," he said. "We're looking pretty good."
So how will he feel when he walks out with some of the best rugby league talent in Australia next month?
"I'll be a bit nervous to start. Before the game it's nervous, then you get the game face on," he said. "I just can't wait to feel what it's like."