The Australian front-rower on his unconventional route to professional rugby

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Queensland Reds prop Dane Zander

Date of birth 23 August 1999 Born Brisbane Position Prop Club Queensland Reds Country Australia

When did you first get involved in rugby?

When I was seven for my local club, the Albany Creek Brumbies. My parents and friends from primary school encouraged me to play. During high school, I played for St Joseph’s Nudgee College from the age of ten to 17.

What do you most enjoy about rugby?

The camaraderie and friendships you build from the game. I enjoy competing and playing as a team, and also the physical contact.

Any childhood heroes?

The rugby players that inspired me were Will Genia, James Horwill and Quade Cooper, who were in the 2011 Super Rugby-winning team.

My parents were my childhood heroes too; their dedication and motivation inspired me.

Can you recap your journey to the Reds?

After not making it into Nudgee College’s first XV, a year after I left school I played at North Brisbane. In 2018 I made my first-grade debut.

The next year I played a whole season in Norths’ first grade, which led to me getting selected in the Brisbane City side to play in the National Rugby Championship. I played every game as loosehead, which landed me a contract with Queensland Reds.

It was always my childhood dream to play professional rugby, especially for the Reds as this is my home state. However, I never expected that it would happen to me.

How much has your game developed at the Reds?

Tremendously. The high level of coaching we have has improved my game. Being able to play and train with some of the best players has also had a major impact on my game.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

My dad, with his constant support and knowledge of sport. Playing alongside Ruan and JP Smith has also had a major impact as they took me under their wing when I first came into professional rugby and have taught me so much on and off the field. And my Norths coach Kieran Prideaux.

What do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months?

I want to get as much experience and play as many Super Rugby games as I can to develop my game.

What do you do away from rugby?

I play golf and like to hang around with my mates.

RW VERDICT: This prop may have been overlooked at age-grade level, but he’s impressed since being scouted in last year’s NRC. He has been developing his scrummaging in Super Rugby and should only continue to build on his huge potential.

This article originally appeared in the July 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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