Ralston’s whirlwind ride
The rugby nursery in Queensland has long been producing quality players, so when you’re just 19 years of age and the top try scorer in the state’s tough Premier grade competition people sit up and take notice.
Fortunately for the Western Force, exciting centre Byron Ralston has chosen to further his rapid rugby development in the west, and supporters will be hoping the youngster can deploy more of his try-scoring feats during the 2019 National Rugby Championship.
“When the chance came to join the highly regarded professional program the Western Force have developed here, as well as to play and learn with some great players, it was an opportunity too good to pass up,” Ralston said.
“I’m loving it here. The facilities we have are outstanding and the professionalism of everyone right throughout the organisation means you have the best opportunity to elevate your game.”
It has been a busy year for Ralston who was part of the Junior Wallabies Oceanic Under 20’s side while also plundering 13 tries during Brothers Rugby Club’s season which saw them reach the Grand Final. The disappointment of going down to Queensland University in the decider has been somewhat tempered by the excitement of being offered the opportunity to come to Perth where his whirlwind year has continued.
Having been in WA for only a matter of days, Ralston was back on a plane and injected into the Force starting side as they took on an international strength Tonga in a pre-World Cup warm-up game.
“Tonga was a different rugby experience, and I feel privileged to have had that experience. It was really good to get away with the boys and spend eight days away with the team overseas.”
The following weekend he debuted in the NRC, helping the Force stage a stunning comeback victory against Queensland Country, a team that contained several familiar faces.
“A lot of the boys in the Queensland Country team were teammates of mine from back in Brisbane. I think there were five Brothers players in there so it was exciting to play against my mates and my old coach,” he said.
“It presented a different challenge, I hadn’t played against them before. There was a little bit of niggle out there but it was good fun and luckily enough we got over the line which was even more pleasing.”
Excitement and niggle, but no nostalgia or homesickness. In fact, Ralston is loving his move west and has quickly formed a bond with his Force teammates.
“The boys have been really inclusive and it has made the transition very easy,” Ralston said.
“I am staying with Johan Bardoul and he has really taken me under his wing. He’s a great guy and really passionate about the club and playing rugby here which is what I’ve seen right throughout the squad.”
Another week and another dash across the Pacific, this time Fiji the destination. Ralston has been named as part of a strong Force team determined to topple reigning NRC champions Fijian Drua in Suva on Saturday.
“We’ve had a good week getting ready for this game and are well prepared. Fijian rugby is renowned for being very attacking and playing with real flair. I’m excited to get over there and do whatever I can to get another win on the board for the Force.”