By Jennie Reid
The Boston 13s rugby league Coach Robin Peers confirms the departure of prop Curtis Goddard, who has signed with the Yass Magpies, near Canberra, Australia, for the 2016 season.
Peers and the 13s have proven their ability to develop impeccable talent in a brief period of time, and Goddard is a prime example of this. He has a cap with the national team, USA Rugby League Hawks. The 13s are the 2015 USA Rugby League National Champions and played a vital role in securing Goddard a team placement in Australia.
A unique combination of connections and coincidences, highlighting the small-world effect of rugby league made this all possible for Goddard. Peers was the instigator for the possibility of Goddard playing in Australia. He suggested the idea to Goddard and helped him obtain highlights footage. Once the footage was posted online, the buzz around Goddard began.
Yass Magpies Head Coach, Steve Naughton said, “My first impression from the highlights film, was that he was a big sized, strong, and reasonably mobile player, which is highly desirable in our competition.”
Goddard’s strong physical stature 6’3’’ (1.9m) and 270lbs (122kg) makes him a natural fit for playing prop in rugby league. His size and athletic talent resulted in former USA international Salesi Tongamoa noticing him in 2014 and referring him to rugby league.
Since childhood Goddard has excelled athletically, firstly in football, then rugby union after university. The transition to rugby league was initially challenging for Goddard, but made smoother in thanks to his Boston 13s coaches and teammates. Peers commented that, “Curtis came to us mid-way through 2014 as an accomplished athlete and in the time since then has developed into a very good rugby league footballer.”
Goddard acknowledges and sincerely appreciates their efforts in teaching him rugby league and establishing key connections in Australia.
With sixteen clubs initially interested in Goddard throughout Australia, Boston 13s Player-Coach, Dustin Cooper handled negotiations.
“You couldn’t fault the professionalism and patience shown by each respective club”, said Cooper “Every club I spoke to on Curt’s behalf were fantastic, and I’m looking forward to dealing with them again in the future as we promote more of our 13s boys, and players from other USARL clubs, to test themselves in Australia.”
Cooper has given Goddard the challenge, and Goddard is certainly challenging himself. According to Cooper, Goddard is “doing everything he needs to to put himself in serious contention for the World Cup (RLWC 2017) team. He loves the sport and wants to better himself.”
Naughton said that he and the other Yass Magpies coaches “have spent a lot of time researching and trying to find players that are the right fit both on and off the field.”
From initial conversations with Goddard, it was evident to Naughton that “he is passionate about rugby league and equally as driven to develop his own game and improve by playing in an Australian competition. He is a team player and a strong community man which aligns well with the culture being created in our football club.”
Peers validated that, “Curtis also has a great work ethic and an extremely good rugby league brain for someone that only took up the sport 18 months ago.”
Cooper knows that Goddard will be in good hands with the Yass Magpies, as he played on a team with Naughton in France. He recognizes the professionalism that Naughton demonstrated as a player and he has no doubt that he will show the same, if not more, as a coach. Naughton and the Yass Magpies are very excited to bring Goddard onboard.
“Having already established a relationship with Dustin previously, it allowed me to receive an honest assessment on Curtis as a player and a person.”
To prepare physically for Australian rugby league, Goddard has been doing a form of training that is not broadly recognized for rugby league training; CrossFit. He has a whole new perspective on training, thanks to Ronnie Briere at CrossFit Objective.
Briere states that “CrossFit works well in a short period of training time, hitting key aspects of what the athlete needs to focus on.” CrossFit is not sport-specific so its functional movements that are constantly varied at high intensity can be catered to anyone by adding or removing weights or reps during the workout.
This form of training works very well for training rugby league players, building their upper and lower body to train for tackling, getting off the ground quickly, and cardio for “being able to go all out for 20 minutes at a time,” says Briere. In just a few weeks of training with Briere at CrossFit Objective, Goddard has lost 15 lbs (6.8 kg).
The workout incorporates moves such as burpees, pushups, pullups, rowing, combined with Olympic lifts and much more to improve respiratory endurance, cardio, stamina, explosive power, strength, flexiblity, coordination, speed, agility, balance, and accuracy.
Briere tells his athletes to “show up, do what we tell you (how to peform the workout), and give it one hundred percent.” He says that if Goddard continues CrossFit training, “he’ll become an even better rugby league player than he is now and he is going to further impress his coaches, trainers, and teammates so much that they’ll wonder what he’s doing for training.”
Goddard departs for Australia on Tuesday. The timing is ideal with his and his wife’s current work situations and their young child. They are eagerly anticipating their adventure ahead.
“It’s all about the next practice, next game…doing the little things right and learning,” says Goddard. His goal is to distinguish himself and be a sure-pick for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Although Goddard is not the first American to head to Australia to play rugby league, he is the first Boston 13s player to do so, and the first American player for the Yass Magpies.
“Hopefully it’ll open up pathways for future Boston 13s and USARL athletes to use rugby league as a tool to travel and experience new culture,” says Cooper.
Peers reflects on his own rugby league career and said, “not playing in Australia is actually the one regret I have. I know lot of guys that have done it and it’s been a great chapter of their playing career, and their lives.” He and Cooper are looking forward to seeing how well Goddard progresses as a rugby league player.
This initial arrangement of Boston 13s sending a player to Australia, and conducting negotiations on his behalf, could be the start of more to come.
“It is expected that his acquisition will increase excitement around the club and town and help promote the football club on a bigger stage,” says Naughton.
The Boston 13s hope to offer this as a pathway for their athletes, and with the 2017 RLWC as motivation, it is looking very likely that more will follow in Goddard’s remarkable journey.