Even though he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from Bond University in 2014, Justin Bernstein is far from a bean counter when it comes to his playing record.
In fact, the Bull Sharks second grade captain didn’t even realise he had become just the third player in Bond University Rugby history to reach 150 caps, until after his milestone match on the weekend.
“I didn’t know it was any special day until after the final whistle went,” he said.
“I saw the team forming a tunnel and my teammates said it was for me.’’
“It would have been nice to get the win that day, but that’s footy.
“The occasion hasn’t really sunk in too much yet but I’m sure when I hang up the boots it will be something I look back on fondly.”
Former Bull Sharks skipper Josh Fuimaono was chosen to present Bernstein with his commemorative jersey after the team fell to Brothers’ second grade team by just three points in round eight. Fuimaono, who is also on the club’s honour board with 106 games to his name, admits he is in awe that Bernstein has kept his baby fact intact.
“He literally hasn’t aged one bit,’’ he said.
“Bit like Benjamin Button, he’s a resilient little bugger.
“He’s loyal and it shows in the 150 games that he’s played with the club.
“He’s a real club man but at the same time he’s smart, he won’t take a step back, he’ll always keep fighting. “
At 30-years-old, the flyhalf’s gritty resilience and selflessness is inspirational to younger players who can only imagine notching such a tenure.
“He takes on feedback really well and he’ll adjust really quickly,” Fuimaono said.
“Some players listen, and some don’t.
“He’s improved tremendously since I’ve retired. I’m quite shocked that he’s not in the premier team, that’s just my honest opinion.”
Nick Turner, who is due to celebrate an incredible club record of 200 caps in early August, first started playing alongside Bernstein in Colts more than 10 years ago.
“He’s very cheeky but I’m lucky enough to call him one of my best mates,” he said.
“It would definitely be a different vibe (at the club) without him around.’’
Turner notes Bernstein’s unassuming stature can be underestimated by opposing teams, at their peril.
“He’s not a big bloke so he’s surprisingly tough for a little sort of fella,’’ he said.
“He probably doesn’t get the acknowledgement for his skills that he deserves.
“He may not take the bigger guys down, but he always jumps in front of them and slows them down and waits for reinforcements to get there.”
As for when Bernstein will call time on his Bond career?
“We’ll see how we go but I’m probably learning towards not playing next year just with work and other commitments,” he said.
“All good things must come to an end at some point.
“If we can stay injury free this year, I think we have really good chance to go all the way.”
He’ll next skipper the team in Saturday’s away game against Easts’ Second Grade. Bond currently leads the competition with four wins and one draw from seven games.
Away from the pitch, the chartered accountant is the Director of his family’s business, active lifestyle clothing brand, Cutter & Buck. His family is also loyal supporters of Bond University Rugby.