WALLABIES winger Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins, is backing an 11-year-old local boy in his bid for Olympic selection.
One of the ‘biggest’ and most captivating personalities in world rugby, Cummins made time to meet wheelchair rugby ‘nut’ Harry Clist when he visited St Joseph’s Primary School Laurieton on Thursday.
Nick’s father Mark Cummins was a teacher at St Joseph’s Port Macquarie and has remained firm friends with St Joseph’s Laurieton principal David Hughes and teacher Mark Bullock.
“I still remember the good times playing rugby league with them; people are still talking about the try Mr Hughes scored for the Byabarra Bulls in the grand final,” Mark Cummins told the school assembly.
Harry Clist’s family moved to the Camden Haven from Bathurst late last year.
On Thursday he joined last year’s Joeys rugby players on the oval as they passed the ball around with Nick and Mark Cummins, and packed down a scrum or two.
When Harry first spoke with David Hughes, he wasn’t shy about sharing his hopes to represent Australia in wheelchair rugby.
“What he likes most about it is that it’s a full contact sport,” explained Harry’s mother Sue.
Although he has only been involved with wheelchair rugby for three years, Harry is training with the NSW squad, and spent last weekend in Sydney training with them.
Not surprisingly, he has already hooked up with local wheelchair rugby hero Ryley Batt, and is currently training in a chair that used to belong to Batt.
Nick Cummins urged the St Joseph’s students to get involved with team sports as a way to make friends and create memories that last for life.
He made his Wallabies test debut in October 2012, and has 15 Wallaby caps to his name.
“Pick a goal and work hard,” he said.
Cummins also spoke frankly about the responsibility of representing your country and yourself at the elite level of sport.
Harry was stunned when Cumming presented him with a specially signed Wallabies training shirt and an autographed photo.
The message on the shirt reads “To Clisty, kick the tyres and light the fires. Follow ur dream mate!”
“Nick is really impressed with Harry’s skills and his commitment to the sport,” Mark Cummins said.
“He’s keen to hear about Harry’s progress as he moves towards his goals.”
Caption: COMMON GOALS: Both these athletes are aiming for Olympic glory. 11-year-old Harry Clist hopes to make the wheelchair rugby squad for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and Wallaby Nick Cummins is aiming for this year’s Australian Rugby Sevens team for Rio.
More about Nick Cummins
28-year-old Nick Cummins was born in Port Macquarie and has an impressive list of rugby achievements in Super 15s, International Rugby and Rugby Sevens.
In 2010 he was selected in Australia's 28-man squad for the Tri-Nations series in South Africa, and later that year travelled to Delhi, where he was part of Australia’s silver medal-winning Commonwealth Games Sevens team.
The winger scored a rare hat-trick of tries for the Western Force in 2014 to forge an upset win over the NSW Waratahs.
Known around the globe as “The Honey Badger” Cummins’ classic one-liners, hilarious post-match interviews and bizarre turn of phrase have made him a fan favourite, and successful brand ambassador.
One “funniest moments of Nick Cummins The Honey Badger” video on YouTube has attracted over 688,000 views.
Rugby fans and officials were surprised when in mid 2014, Cummins was released early from his Western Force and Australian Rugby Union contracts on compassionate grounds, to move to Japan to play with the Coca Cola West Red Sparks.
A key part of Cummins' decision to relocate to Japan was his desire to support his seven siblings, and his father Mark, who is battling cancer. The lucrative contract helped meet family medical costs.
Cummins was recently confirmed in the Qantas Australian Men's Sevens program for 2016 and has his eyes firmly set on representing Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.