A lot has changed in the world of rugby league development over the 10 years Gavin Lloyd has spent with the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, but not the love he has for the game itself.
“Lloydy” grew up playing rugby league like many Queensland kids, and went on to play in the Australian Army team during his Townsville-based posting, before moving to a coaching role with the Australian Rugby League.
“I started working with the Cowboys helping the U20s with their day-to-day stuff like cooking and washing their clothes, until they needed more help in game development, so I started working in the department from then," he said.
“We now go from Bundy [Bundaberg] to PNG, working with everyone from the local ‘A’ grade to kids, doing lots of programs with coaching football but also things like healthy eating, lifestyle choices, and helping to deliver community programs.”
During a decade on the road, Gavin has met over 400,000 rugby league fans in various game development and community programs, averaging three of the ten years living out of hotels and motels across the state.
“I used to write a ‘Parmi report’ because I think I’ve probably tried one in every town in North Queensland; not to mention the automatic Wi-Fi connections – my phone will auto connect as I drive through a town, because I’ve pretty much stayed everywhere.
“I’ve been pretty lucky to have seen so many of our communities, but couldn’t have done so much travelling without the support of my wife and family.”
The proud father of three boys who also play league – Ryan (20) who plays second-row for the Cowboys National Youth Competition, and Trent (17) and Cooper (9) who play for Brothers Rugby League – says he’s happy knowing they're all playing for the right reasons.
“I think the good thing about going out and talking to kids about how to be a good player is that you also have to be a good person and do the right thing – I think that's what they expect now.
“I get a thrill out of it, seeing kids I worked with at primary school, then seeing them in NYC [under 20s]; there are some I’ve known who have gone on to play NRL and Australia.
“I like going to places where they buy into it [rugby league], places like Thursday Island where they thrive on it … it’s what keeps them together – the Cowboys and rugby league – I really enjoy that aspect the most.”