We caught up with former North Queensland Toyota Cowboys centre Brent Tate to talk about his playing career and what he's up to now.
Tate spent time with the Brisbane Broncos and New Zealand Warriors before joining the Cowboys in 2011.
The 39-year-old, who made 229 NRL appearances, 23 for Queensland and 26 for Australia, was named in the Cowboys 20-year team in 2015.
Q&A: Brent Tate (Cowboy #228)
1. How old were you when you started playing rugby league and what got you interested?
I was actually about six when I started playing for the Newtown Lions in Toowoomba, but I broke my leg and only played for another year.
I will never forget this moment. We were in Toowoomba and I was standing in the loungeroom and Mum was watching the TV and she stood up out of nowhere, looked at me and said "I'm going to sign you up to play football". I remember looking at the TV and there was a Bulldogs and Western Suburbs game on and that's where I pretty much fell in love with it. I will never ever forget that moment that mum said she'd sign me up to play footy.
2. You were part of a stacked Australian Schoolboys squad in 1999, featuring the likes of Braith Anasta, Mark Gasnier, Corey Parker, Micheal Luck, Justin Hodges and Jamie Lyon. What was that experience and tour of Europe like?
It was a great experience for a young kid touring Europe for six or eight weeks and especially with an unbelievable crew of players that we had. I had hurt my back before I went over so I didn't play a hell of a lot of footy over there. The footy side of things probably wasn't great for me but the experience on the trip was incredible. I remember being young kids in some little French town and sneaking out at night and having some beers and carrying on, but it was all great fun.
3. You made your debut with the Brisbane Broncos as a 19-year-old against the Melbourne Storm in 2001. What do you remember about that night?
I had just signed to stay at the Broncos and Wayne [Bennett] had promised me a couple of games at the back end of the year. My first memory was I couldn't get over how fast it was. I remember thinking "I am never ever going to be able to play at that speed". I have never experienced anything like it. The atmosphere of the crowd, how fast it was. It was almost like a blur. I played another two games at the back end of that season and sort of played well and found a bit of comfort.
4. After only 14 first grade games you were called up to make your State of Origin debut in 2002. How did you find out and what do you remember about that game?
I got a call from Gary Belcher or Gene Miles. When I was playing at the Broncos at the time, they used to gee everyone up so I didn't know if it was serious or not. I packed my bags and went into camp but went in a bit standoffish because I wasn't sure if it was real or not. I just remember being really excited about the week and training with Alfie and those guys and putting on the Origin training kit. It was just the world's greatest experience. I had a real moment where the nerves hit me when I ran out in the second half. I came off the bench and I ran out onto the field and it was almost like I had an out of body experience when I was like 'Holy sh*t, I'm playing State of Origin footy'. That's the first time it got real. It was an unbelievable experience playing with Alfie and Gordie and all these legends. I was just in awe of it all.
5. After seven seasons and a Premiership with the Brisbane Broncos and a further three season with the Warriors, you signed with the Cowboys in 2011. Why did you decide to sign with the club?
I was playing at the Warriors and knew I only had a few years left so I was always mindful of moving back to Queensland. I knew the club had potential. I just felt I could just add by coming here and making the change and making us a real force again. That was another big driver for it.
6. Looking back at your four years with the Cowboys, what are your fondest memories?
I probably enjoyed my footy here more than I did anywhere in the end. The players that I played with up there like Ashton, Hally, Dallas, Matty Scott, JT and Coops, they were just really good fellas. They were really good team men. I also really felt a part of the community up here. I think that was one of the biggest things. You felt that every time you played. People up here were riding every tackle, every run, every hit-up, every catch. I do look back on my times playing here with great memories. I look back and smile when I think about it.
7. What have you been up to since retiring in 2014?
I came out of footy and worked with the Cowboys in their corporate and commercial team for four or five years. From there I went and worked with Westfund Health Insurance which has been a complete change of pace from the rugby league world but I was sort of really keen to sink my teeth into the corporate sector. Also, me and Rob Peel own TRL in Townsville and Cairns. We have grown that to 30 teams consistently here in Townsville and we'll launch Cairns some time this year. Along with that I have my commentating role with Fox Sports and then being on the footy committee at the Cowboys. It's nice to still have some involvement without being involved in the day-to-day running of it. I haven't struggled with life after footy, I've been the opposite. I loved footy but I have loved getting away from it and doing something different with my life.
8. You are set to play in next month’s Legends of League match. Who are you most looking forward to playing with?
I am not looking forward to it much at all to be honest haha. But no, I'm just keen to catch up with all of the old players. I've always had a lot of respect for the guys that have gone before me. It will just be good to catch up with those guys. The footy isn't that serious but the stuff that they do in the community is great, and then to be able to have a couple of beers and catch up with those old footy players and share some stories is what I'm looking forward to most.