Liam Upfield watched the second half of the Bull Sharks’ clash with Loughborough University from the sideline in a moon boot.
And you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
Back on the Gold Coast mum Angela, although concerned for her youngest, was also pretty happy that a dream she’d always harboured had just been realised.
The 26-year-old had just played his first ever game alongside older brother and best mate Jake.
Jake Upfield, the Reds’ number eight, went through the Southport School a couple of years ahead of Liam and they never got the chance to pull on the Sharkies’ red, white and blue together.
Both brothers studied at Bond and joined the Bull Sharks, but Jake made the grade earlier and by the time Liam was knocking on the door of first grade, it was usually when Jake was unavailable, either through Reds duties or injury.
When the Bond University Rugby Club decided to tour Europe in conjunction with the 2023 Rugby World Cup neither brother was intending to take part.
Jake was unsure if the Reds would release him for an off-season trip which would include multiple games against tough European university sides.
When Jake’s availability was finally determined on the eve of the tour, a rushed plan was hatched that would see the boys play together twice, even if it was over 16,000kms from home.
A passport was hastily updated and Liam was the last player to book his spot on the tour, a half an hour before the deadline.
Unfortunately, an ankle injury ended his game late in the first quarter, at that stage the Bull Sharks led 17-14.
Bond scored the first three tries to put the hosts on the back foot but as the game wore on, the boys from Loughborough, at the end of a long pre-season, had too much in the tank for the Gold Coasters who were more than a month into their off-season.
The final score of 47-24 was a fair reflection of a game that was both hard fought and entertaining.
But as Liam quipped “we were leading when I went off.’’
“We have always wanted to play together but it has just never worked out until now,” he said.
“And it was something mum has always wanted, so the whole family was really excited, and today is one I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
By his own admission Bull Sharks coach Grant Anderson “hates losing.”
However, the experience he had just provided his players was invaluable and he was an unusually satisfied figure in the sheds post match.
“I think they played their hearts out,” he said.
“We had players from the Colts through every grade and I was thrilled with the way they gelled together.
“There’s things we will lean from that, but really we came here to give our players an experience they will never forget.’’