’I feel like a kid at Christmas’: Delight at son’s NRL debut
ROCKHAMPTON’S Rory Condon is feeling like a kid at Christmas after learning his eldest son will make his NRL debut on Friday night.
Ben Condon, 20, will come off the bench for the North Queensland Cowboys in their Round 19 clash against competition leaders, the Penrith Panthers, at 6pm.
Proud parents Rory and Kylie will be at Queensland Country Bank Stadium to witness the monumental milestone.
“It’s fantastic. We’re just so pleased for Ben,” Rory said today.
“We know how much he’s wanted this, how much he’s stuck in there and how much it means to him.
“At 47, I feel like a kid at Christmas. I can’t wait to get up there and be part of it and watch him play.”
Rory revealed that Ben was watching Netflix when Cowboys interim coach Josh Hannay called him on Monday to deliver the news.
Ben couldn’t wait to ring his parents and tell them.
“He’s a man of few words, our Ben. He just said: ‘I’m making my debut this Friday’,” Rory said.
“It was so exciting to hear those words and it was quite emotional for the whole family.”
Hannay told media earlier this week he was happy to give Ben his first shot at the NRL.
“Benny’s one of our good young prospects,” he said.
“I like what he offers; he’s a hard-running big body.
“I think long-term the edge will be where he finds his home, as an edge backrower, but this weekend he may get some time in the middle.”
Rory is sure Ben will deliver on the big stage, despite not having played a game of football since March with the Intrust Super Cup competition cancelled after just one round in response to COVID-19.
The 196cm, 109kg powerhouse forward was playing with the Northern Pride in the ISC after the past two seasons with the Townsville Blackhawks in the Hastings Deering Colts competition.
He averaged four tackle breaks, two offloads, 96 running metres and 19 tackles across 21 Hastings Deering Colts games in 2019.
Last year, he also played in the Queensland under-20s against New South Wales in the curtain raiser to the State of Origin series decider.
Rory said if Ben got enough game time on Friday, he would go well.
“I’ve no doubt he will hold his own - he’s big enough and strong enough,” he said.
“I think he does have the potential to add an extra dimension to them if he can break the line and offload, which he’s very good at.”
Rory remembers Ben was just 10 years old when he made his career intentions clear.
“He said ‘I’m going to play football’, and there’s never been any doubt in his mind that this was what he was going to go,” Rory said.
“He loved footy from day one, and it seemed like he always had a football in his hands.
“I think we’ve still got about 20 of them in his cupboard downstairs that he pumps up every time he comes home.”
That singular focus combined with an incredible work ethic, a relentless will to succeed and a wealth of natural talent has proven a recipe for success.
Ben first played footy in the under-8s in Roma and continued through the ranks there before his family moved to Rockhampton about seven years ago.
He started school at Rockhampton Grammar and soon earned a place in the school’s First XIII for both union and league.
He was an integral part of Grammar’s all-conquering First XIII of 2017 and was named Player of the Carnival following their win at the Confraternity Shield.
He was part of the Cowboys’ Rockhampton academy for two seasons before he moved to Townsville in 2017 after graduating from Grammar.
Rory said he could not wait to land in Townsville on Friday and get decked out in Cowboys colours for the big game.
“As a father, it’s awesome to see your son achieve what he’s always wanted to do, or at least start to do that,” he said.
“It’s something that Ben will never forget and I’m pretty sure that both Kylie and I will get a bit teary when we see it happen.”