Former Seagull Matthew Gorman, who was dual-registered with the Bilambil Jets, wants to make it all the way to the NRL.
Former Seagull Matthew Gorman, who was dual-registered with the Bilambil Jets, wants to make it all the way to the NRL. Contributed

Ex-Seagull all heart

FORMER Tweed Coast Seagull and Bilambil Jet Matthew Gorman may be on the path to realising his dream on new rugby league reality TV show The NRL Rookie.

But it was almost over before it began, with a heart condition picked up during the audition process.

A 22-year-old fitness fanatic who took up rugby league at 18, Gorman auditioned for the new show – which rewards one contestant with the coveted prize of a guaranteed contract with one of the National Rugby League’s 16 clubs – not knowing he was suffering from Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.

It’s a potentially life-threatening heart condition.

“Apparently it’s something you’re born with. I didn’t know I’d had it until I had my checks for The Rookie,” Gorman said.

The syndrome, characterised by attacks of rapid heart rate, was picked up through a routine electrocardiogram (ECG) as part of the show’s audition process, after a monitor registered Gorman’s heart beating at 274 beats per minute during exercise.

Former NRL star Brad Fittler is the head coach and presenter of Nine’s new reality show The Rookie.
Former NRL star Brad Fittler is the head coach and presenter of Nine’s new reality show The Rookie. Patrick Gorbunovs

The discovery left the NRL aspirant’s chances of competing on the show on a knife-edge.

“They sent me to see a heart specialist. He looked at the ECG and said ‘you need an operation’. He didn’t think it would be possible for me to compete.”

Gorman was shattered at the news. He said he felt like he’d been kicked in the guts when the surgeon broke the news.

“I explained my story to him and pleaded with him and, full credit to him, he rushed me in for surgery two days later.”

The heart condition was fixed, leaving Gorman free to pursue his dream of securing the contract on offer through the show and potentially making his way onto an NRL list.

It’s been a long journey but a rapid rise for the die-hard St George-Illawara Dragons supporter, who plied his trade with the round ball while growing up in Sydney’s southern suburbs.

Gorman always wanted to play league and the Seagulls came calling when he began looking for other opportunities after becoming disenchanted with soccer.

“I did an open trial for the 2015 season and while I was injured at the time, I managed to get in contact with the coach and he told me to send some training videos through.”

Gorman drove up to the coast and impressed trialling with the Seagulls. He was signed to their 2015 Queensland Cup Squad and also signed with Bilambil.

While Gorman was disappointed not to make his Seagulls debut, he now calls it a “blessing in disguise”, as he would have been ineligible for The NRL Rookie if he’d played any Cup-level games in the past three years.

Gorman has made his mark on the show under the watchful eye of coaches including NRL legends Brad Fittler, Adrian Lam and Mark “MG” Geyer. He was selected from thousands of applicants around the world for the 28 positions on offer.

He now finds himself in the final 14 players, after 14 others were culled in Tuesday night’s first episode.

“I was confident in my trial and I was confident I’d left nothing on the park and had done well,” he said.

Fittler, who captained 14 Origin teams between 1990-2004 said Gorman had stamped himself on the competition from the outset.

“He’s very passionate and on the back of his passion and desire he goes hard,” Fittler said.

“He showed some great courage and he did your area proud.”

The NRL Rookie screens on Channel 9Go Tuesday nights at 7.30pm.



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