Silence for Simon green and golden
By CHRIS GILMORE
NOT many people could claim to have represented Australia after playing their sport for only five weeks, but that's exactly what's happened to Simon Mahony.
Simon, 24, from Lismore, has been selected in the Australian Deaf Rugby Union team to tour New Zealand in August.
Not a bad achievement for someone who, after aspiring to make it to the Paralympics in basketball, switched to playing rugby union only in April.
"I was interested in watching rugby union, and I found I had the skills required from playing basketball, so I thought I'd give it a go," he said.
Simon tried out for the Australian team in Brisbane a few weeks ago and the rest is history.
"It's a message of what you can do if you try," he said.
"With support and determination ? and if you're not frightened to have a go ? you can be successful."
Simon has trained and played with the Southern Cross University rugby club since taking up the game, and has played reserve grade in the FNC competition.
"They are a dedicated team and very community-minded; the whole team has supported me with coaching and training," he said.
"Their genuine support and encouragement has really spurred me on."
Simon is very versatile positionally ? he says he can play lock, flanker or five-eighth.
He trains with the team on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
SCU first-grade coach Matt Want said Simon was picking up the rules of the game well and was very keen to learn.
"He picks up things pretty quickly; he watches what others do," he said.
"He's been really well accepted by the guys and he has a joke with them."
Want said the club had helped Simon by holding a raffle during the NSW Country Cocaktoos v Perth Gold game at Oakes Oval a few weeks ago.
Simon's wife, who is also profoundly deaf, is in her third year of study at SCU.
The couple have two boys, aged two and five, who are both hearing.
Simon's two-week New Zealand tour will kick off on August 7 after a four-day training camp at Port Macquarie.
The team will play two Tests against New Zealand, as well as two games against provincial opposition.
Simon is also looking for sponsorship from the local community.
He works part-time, but said he could use some extra help to make his Test dreams come true.
If you can help, email Simon at email@example.com