Srama's proven path to NRL dream
He began as a six-year-old who loved playing footy with his mates from school but for Matt Srama the dream of playing in the NRL became a reality when he was invited to join the Gold Coast Titans' under-20s squad.
Srama's rugby league journey commenced in the under-6s with West Centenary Panthers in the Greater Brisbane District Junior Rugby League competition and has progressed to the point where he has now played 64 NRL games for the Titans having made his debut in 2011.
But while many players move up from under-age competitions to reserve grade and then first grade, Srama was throw in against much older opposition with Ipswich in the Intrust Super Cup before being picked up by the Titans under-20s.
"I didn't quite get first crack as an 18-year-old in the under-20s so I went back to Ipswich and forced my way into the Queensland Cup side," Srama tells NRL.com ahead of PlayNRL Round this weekend.
"I reckon that helped me a lot, playing Q Cup before under-20s because I got to play against guys who were already established NRL players.
"Playing with older guys, the physicality of it definitely helped when I got my chance in under-20s the next year. It was a really good experience and it's still a high level the Queensland Cup, it's a good pathway."
Like many players in the NRL, a strong family history in rugby league helped Srama to realise his dream of playing in the game's premier competition.
Srama's older brothers Luke and Paul have both been heavily involved in rugby league and his father, Joseph, played extensively in the Toowoomba competition.
"My pathway came from my brothers playing footy so they've been a great influence on me," Srama said.
"My dad also played and played a fair bit in Toowoomba and me being the youngest they've passed on all their advice so I've got to pick each one of their brains which has been good.
"I'm the first Srama to play NRL so they're all really proud and I'm proud that I did it with their help."
Although he had strong support from family at home, Srama also credited the influence of his junior coaches who told he and his teammates that there was no reason to fear anyone on the footy field, advice that has stayed with the 24-year-old in his five years in the NRL.
"I was never the biggest kid so I used to have a plot of traffic come my way as a kid but I just worked on my defence all the way through my junior days. If anything it made me want to prove a point," said Srama, who now plays at 175cm and 85kg. "As a kid you don't really think about those sort of things, you just go out here to play footy and have fun with your mates.
"All through juniors the coaches become like second father figures. They look after you on away games and things like that so all my coaches through club and school footy have been great influences on my career.
"The main thing was just to have fun. That was first and foremost, enjoying the social aspect of what ruby league brings.
"Also, not being afraid of any opponent; our junior coaches instilled that in us when we used to play some bigger teams."
Round 3 of the Telstra Premiership is PlayNRL Round where the game will celebrate all that’s great about grassroots rugby league.
Rugby league is all about having fun, making friends and staying healthy. The NRL is using this round to help promote Junior Rugby League and thank you, our future stars and fans and heroes who help make it all possible.
Join the conversation at #PlayNRL, get your tickets at nrl.com/tickets and get to a game. Talk to your local junior club about signing up as a player or volunteer and join the thousands of people who make rugby league great.