Zane Nonggorr’s selection in the Wallabies touring squad for the Rugby Championship in South Africa is not only the fulfilment of a childhood dream but also a milestone for the Bond Rugby Club based at the Bond University campus on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
The 22-year-old tighthead prop is the Bull Sharks’ first Wallaby tourist.
Wallabies co-captain James Slipper was a Bond student but despite being registered with the rugby club, has never pulled on the Bull Sharks strip.
Nonggorr studied Law at Bond and came through the ranks of the Bull Sharks. He started in the Colts and his selection in the Wallabies squad is the manifestation of a rugby pathway carefully mapped out by the club.
“I love the Bond Rugby Club. I was up there at Sunnybank on Saturday watching them get the win,” he said.
“I have great mates playing at Bond and I love going there even when I’m not playing for them. I go whenever I can and get around the boys.
“It’s a really great club and they have been a major help to me following that pathway from school, to Bond, to Reds and then the Wallabies – it’s pretty cool.’’
The former Southport School student admits the call-up to national duties is ahead of his own wildest ambitions.
His 2022 Super Rugby campaign was cut short by a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury and he entered this year’s season with the goal of cementing a starting spot for the Reds, having come off the bench in all but one of his 13 appearances since debuting in 2020.
“I was really focussed on getting my body right to play most of the Super Rugby season and I did that, so I was pretty happy with myself,” he said.
“When I got called into that (Wallabies) training squad I was excited and I thought I would go and try my hardest and if I didn’t get picked I’d still gain valuable experience.
“I’m pretty young for this and they have quality tight heads all around Australia.
“So when I saw my name in the touring squad it was a dream come true.”
That determination to learn from more experienced players around him paid immediate dividends as he found another gear on the training track – throwing his 187cm, 130kg frame into contact drills.
“I didn’t expect this (selection) to happen so soon but I put my best foot forward and they liked how I trained,” he said.
“They just said to know your role, do your role and do it the best you can.
“It has been great experience working alongside players from other Super Rugby clubs and even the boys from overseas that are playing with clubs in France and Japan, just seeing how they go about things and how intense they train.
“It is a step up, and I guess everyone is training that extra bit to impress and push for team selection.”