City News

Murderball hits Sydney’s streets

On Australia Day in 2005, Josh Hose was a passenger in a car with friends when the driver lost control.

As a result of the accident, Hose was left with serious spinal damage. He then spent two weeks in an induced coma, and needed a six-hour operation to realign his spine and recover from two collapsed lungs.

“After I broke my neck in a car accident on Australia Day 2005 and I was taken to the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre in Melbourne,” Hose said.

“I remember seeing the Victorian wheelchair rugby team training there in the gymnasium and I was pretty much hooked on the physical nature of the sport for life.”

The recovery process set Hose on the path to the Paralympic Games.

Three years later in 2008, Hose was selected in the Australian wheelchair rugby team, setting the scene for the Steelers’ gold medal triumph at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

“It was a great experience,” Hose said. “I was lucky enough to have 20 of my family and friends over there and it made the whole experience that much sweeter.”

And now Hose and the Australian wheelchair rugby team are hitting the streets of Sydney. The Wheelchair Rugby Tri-Nations tournament between Australia, New Zealand and the USA will be played outdoors at an arena erected at St Mary’s Cathedral Square.

It should be brutal. The sport combines elements of basketball, football and ice hockey and is an intense, physical sport for athletes with quadriplegia or a disability that affects all four limbs – thus it is known as ‘Murderball’.

“Physicality is definitely a part of the game I like,” said Australia’s co-captain Jason Lees.

“I think a lot of the guys like the contact and being physical because all grew up playing contact sport in Australia.”

The event marks the first time Australia have played at home since winning their gold medal at London 2012, and since losing their number one world ranking to the USA earlier this year.

“It is going to be an amazing thing for the sport,” Lees said. “The media attention it’s getting and the people walking through the city and being able to see it is really cool. Bringing rugby into the CBD is something that has never been done and should be really good.”

There will be three games a day from Wednesday to Friday, including twilight games open to the public. Australia play New Zealand at 12.30pm on Thursday before the Steelers’ grudge match against the USA at 7.30pm on Thursday night. Finals will take place on Friday, with the grand final at 5pm.

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