CQ footy legend’s road to the pinnacle of rugby league
RUGBY LEAGUE: Former NRL star Scott Minto has revealed he lost some passion for footy in high school.
He flourished in his early years, scoring his first Queensland jersey when he was 12, but he failed to scale the same heights in his teenage years.
Football became secondary after he graduated from Yeppoon High School and the dream of playing at an elite level faded behind the daily routine of study and work.
He found his way back to the game several years later, playing with the Yeppoon Seagulls, and the dream was revived.
Minto went on to play 53 NRL games – 39 for the Brisbane Broncos and 14 for the North Queensland Cowboys – mixing it with some of the game’s legendary figures.
The 41-year-old has shared some of his incredible journey in this first-person piece.
It includes his promotion from local league to the CQ Capras, the phone call from “a man claiming to be Wayne Bennett” to the literal lucky break that led to his NRL debut.
Read about this local legend’s rise from Rockhampton to Red Hill.
GROWING up in the modest suburb of Park Avenue, Rockhampton, was always full of good times. Countless games of afternoon football, coupled with mini Olympics tournaments and BMX bandits, we were always entertained. The only rule was unanimous in each of our households, be home before the street lights come on.
Mum and dad were always supportive of us kids. My two brothers Glen and Paul had their own pursuits. They were both good at anything they tried. Glen was a state representative in touch football and Paul a state cricket player. I guess I had a lot to aspire too.
But my main inspiration came from my dad. Playing for his beloved club Rockhampton Norths, he played with the toughest of them all. Stories of battles with the likes of Steve Crear, Tank Duncan and Richard Apps were the common discussion at most family get togethers. I guess this played a part in inspiring the passion for the game in me.
Glenmore State School was where I attended primary school. 1990 was the year that our Grade 7 rugby league team went through undefeated. That same year I went on to be selected in the Qld under 12 team playing alongside future NRL stars Tony Martin, Shane Walker and Shaun Berrigan.
High school saw me come back to the field so to speak. On the football field I struggled to keep the same impact I made in my younger years. I hadn’t grown much and the competition all of a sudden felt that little bit harder. Years 10, 11 and 12 I didn’t make a single representative team in rugby league. I guess it was at this stage I lost some of that passion. Rejection is not the easiest thing to overcome. Seeing others succeed while you are left out is a hard pill to swallow sometimes.
After school I didn’t play much footy at all. Study and work took centre stage and so the dream of playing football soon became a distant memory.
It wasn’t until two years after high school that I started to come back to the game. I played U19’s at Yeppoon Seagulls alongside Johnny Doyle and soon this would lead to my debut in A-grade. I’ll never forget sitting beside Kerry Butler in the sheds watching him apply half a tub of Metsal cream all over his body and head.
Suddenly thoughts of dad playing in the Rockhampton A-grade competition and the tough opponents he faced came flooding back. In my head at the time this was the pinnacle. Battles against Rockhampton Brothers were always my favourite games. Hughey Stanley was as good as they come and probably should have played a heap of NRL. He hit harder, kicked the ball further and set more tries up than anyone else in the competition, man he could play.
A season in A-grade under Paul ‘pig’ Grant set me up for a boost into the CQ Capras squad. What a time this was for me. Experience playing against NRL first graders on any given weekend started to fuel a fire in me that had been missing for some time. A good friend at the time, Anthony Hick, helped me train when others weren’t, I really owe him a lot for this.
I was now starting to get recognised by clubs in the NRL. A brief stint with the Raiders followed after playing well in a pre-season trial at Browne Park, however this didn’t last long.
What they don’t tell you is you’re on your own a lot when you get down to these clubs and the pressure to succeed is never far away.
Throw is a significant injury and this was enough to bring me home from the nation’s capital after only four months.
I was back to square one and playing for the Capras but at least I knew I would enjoy my football again.
The following year I played really well and it wasn’t long before the clubs came knocking. It was at this stage the Eels began to show interest in me and I was keen to rejoin my old teammate PJ Marsh there.
Just days before the deadline to sign, I received a call at home from a man who was claiming to be Wayne Bennett.
I made the mistake of asking if it was my friends prank calling me only to be advised that indeed it was him.
Not the best start, but this would be the beginning of my time at the Broncos.
I took up the offer in a flash and after a grueling pre-season in early 2002, my journey in the NRL had begun. Playing for Toowoomba in the Queensland Cup was a great experience.
New friendships and quality coaches gave me confidence that I may get a chance to play NRL one day.
That chance wouldn’t take too long to come around.
It was round 12 of the 2002 season and I got the advice I would be 18th man for the Broncos v Wests Tigers clash at Campbelltown Stadium.
It was the captain’s run on the day before the game that provided a surprise not even Nostradamus could have predicted.
Brent Tate would break his thumb in the final minutes of the session and I would be promoted to the starting 13 for the following night.
Driving into the stadium that next day was something I’ll always remember.
Running out in the famous Brisbane Broncos strip under the guidance of a future Hall of Fame coach was something I’ll always remember.
Sitting in the sheds after the win, remembering the times growing up and dreaming of this moment was surreal to say the least.
I played for six years in the NRL following that game. Lockyer, Thurston, Webcke, Tallis, Bowen… you name it, I played with the best. What an honour it was to play alongside the greats of the game.
Since my retirement I’ve come to nestle back in the region I’ve always called home CQ. Working with the might of St Brendan’s College Rugby League these days has reignited that same passion that drove me forward all those years ago.
This time around it won’t be on the field but off it.
But you can rest assured I’ll be paying it forward with interest in a bid to thank those who helped me along the way.