How Broncos prospect resisted rugby's lure
Patrick Carrigan's parents enrolled their son at Brisbane's prestigious St Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace school for boys and into the waiting arms of rugby union's illuminati but his love affair with rugby league always burned stronger.
Heading into his second year with the Broncos' under-20s squad in 2017, Carrigan recently attended the Queensland Academy of Sport's under-20s Emerging Origin program having graduated from the Queensland under-18s team last year.
A front-rower whose private school looks belie a quiet toughness required to succeed in rugby league's middle third, Carrigan has all the hallmarks of a young man who was captain of his school and vice-captain of his school's GPS Rugby team yet harbours dreams of emulating childhood heroes Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva by playing in the NRL for his beloved Broncos.
As he made his way through his later years of high school Carrigan juggled his schoolwork, First XV rugby commitments, junior league rep commitments with Easts Tigers and rowing with Terrace's first eight and his schedule has hardly slowed down since.
During the week he starts his day at 4am with work as a labourer at the Rocklea Markets, does a day of university at University of Queensland where he is in his second year studying physiotherapy before heading to Red Hill for training with the Broncos 20s.
All in pursuit of a place in the Broncos' NRL team.
"I always grew up loving the Broncs, which is because of my old man, he's a pretty mad Broncos supporter," Carrigan told NRL.com.
"I have brief memories of going over to ANZ Stadium to take a couple of photos of me lying around as a young fella. Dad used to take me to the footy and change my nappy and whatever else he had to do.
"The best thing about union was the mateship at school rather than me wanting to actually give it a crack to go further.
"I'd grown up with league since I was five years old and that was always what I wanted to do.
"Even at school everyone knew that I was the leaguie playing union for the school."
North Queensland assistant coach Josh Hannay had Carrigan in his Queeensland under-18s team last year and is confident that along with his impeccable manners he has the mean streak necessary to enjoy a long career in the NRL.
"I think he's made a good choice because he looks as though he'll be a very good front-rower," Hannay said of choosing between league and union.
"He doesn't look like a rough and rugged type of guy – he's a really well-presented kid, smart – but he's got that real toughness to play in the middle.
"Don't be fooled by his looks because he's a very hard-working, tough front-rower.
"He's got great manners, is a really humble kid, works hard and demonstrates a lot of qualities that you hope to see in young men but you often don't.
"He's going to be a fair lump of a man so with both of those things combined – the frame he's got, the physicality he has and the size he's going to be with the work ethic and the character traits he has – he has a real opportunity to make it. There's a lot to like about him."
But proving even further that he is very much a thinking man's front-rower, Carrigan is determined to finish his degree in physiotherapy and ensure that in whichever direction his career turns he has the grounding to be a success.
Even if footy was supposed to be the 'Plan B' when his parents enrolled him at Terrace.
"Mum and Dad have always worked that hard for me to have the opportunities that I've had and it was always to get an education first and footy can be a Plan B," said the 19-year-old who played 18 games in his first Holden Cup season last year.
"At the moment I obviously want to play NRL and tick everything off – that's my No.1 goal and that's what I'm always chasing – but I've got the physio there as the back-up plan.
"Scott Prince spoke to us in camp about how his first six years were six years of injuries so I'm just trying to get a degree there in something that I like so that if a curve ball gets thrown at me I'll have it up my sleeve."