Sad twist in 7-year-old giant's tale
THERE'S been a sad twist in the story of the seven-year-old boy who stunned rugby league after footage of him scoring a try in a junior game went viral this week.
A video was posted online showing the youngster - roughly double the size and weight of the other players on the field - strolling through defenders on his way to the stripe for the St Johns Eagles Under-8s side in the Canterbury-Bankstown junior league.
But there has been a concerning aftermath. Yahoo Sports reports the reaction to the video has upset the boy's parents, reducing them to tears as they read cruel comments posted about him on social media.
And Channel Seven rugby league reporter Josh Massoud said on The 7th Tackle the boy's future in the sport is now uncertain.
"This kid now has stopped playing rugby league. He won't be playing this weekend and that is really, really sad," said Massoud, before adding the parent who uploaded the footage to the internet deeply regrets doing so.
"He has a great deal of remorse over that. He wished he hadn't done that because he's not in the media, he can't foresee the consequences."
A parent told Yahoo Sports the boy is only new to the team and has been very considerate to opposition players.
"The fact is the boy only joined the team six weeks ago - and has only scored three tries. It's not like he's knocking over kids every time he touches the ball. In fact, he's very gentle and aware of his size," he said.
It echoes the sentiment of St Johns Eagles chairman Nasser Matta, who told The Daily Telegraph earlier this week the boy is a "gentle giant".
"This boy's a gentle giant. He doesn't just run through the opposition to hurt other kids," Matta said.
"He's aware of his size. He could pick up kids with one hand if he wanted to but he's just a nice gentle boy. He's a good kid from a good family who just loves playing footy.
"I don't want the kid to think he doesn't deserve to play footy because of his size."
The footage has reignited the weight vs age debate in junior rugby league. The NRL has been considering for years whether to group young players together based on their size rather than their age.