The inspiration behind Dane Gagai
Queensland winger Dane Gagai says his father Ray is the reason he started playing rugby league, with the 25-year-old labelling his dad as his biggest inspiration throughout his rugby league career.
Dane has had a brilliant start to his representative career, scoring five tries in three games for Queensland – including a hat-trick in the Maroons' 26-16 Game Two win on June 22.
His footballing prowess appears to run in the family, with his father Ray being a member of the Brisbane Broncos' squad in the 1989 NSWRL season.
It meant that Dane grew up watching his dad play the sport he loved and it didn't take long for Dane to follow in his father's footsteps.
Dane developed in the Broncos' rugby league system, making his debut for Brisbane in 2011 before moving to the Newcastle Knights in 2012 – a career shift that has seen the Mackay product flourish in the NRL.
He says his best memories involve watching his dad play rugby league in Mackay and being a ball boy for Ray's Souths Sharks side.
"Dad grew up in Mackay and was at the Broncos for a bit. He then moved back to Mackay and was playing for Souths there," Gagai said.
"I grew up watching him play and he has always been my favourite player to watch.
"I was his biggest fan when he played and I used to have the best seats in the house because I was the ball boy for all his games.
"My dad was a huge inspiration for me to pursue this dream and I'm very thankful for the support Mum and Dad have always given me, as well as the sacrifices they have made for me.
"I'll never be able to thank them enough for helping me get to where I am today."
Dane now has a family of his own, with he and his partner Kelly the proud parents of son Dante.
Dante is the newest member of a special footballing family, with Dane boasting cousins that possess elite rugby league ability.
Gold Coast Titan Josh Hoffman, rugby league great Wendell Sailor and current Bronco Travis Waddell are all cousins of Gagai.
It hasn't taken long for Dane to introduce Dante to the world of rugby league, with the Queensland star holding his little one on the field after Game Two in what was a very special moment.
Gagai said that moment would always be something he cherishes, and he hoped to have many more moments like it with his family.
"Family is everything to me. I'm fortunate enough to have a healthy young boy and a beautiful partner who's always there supporting me," he said.
"My family has always been there for me and we can all lean on each other in tough times.
"It's great having that support and I'm just so happy that I'm a father now. I'm going to do everything I can to be the best one I can be.
"Being able to hold Dante on the field after Game Two… Words just can't describe that feeling."