Local boy tagged with new home for world cup
OZTAG: While running through an inch of snow to trial for the Great Britain side that will head into the 2018 Tag World Cup this week, Tom Zirbel felt pretty far from home.
The 30-year-old grew up in the Lockyer Valley but has spent the past five years living and working in England.
Zirbel got the nod earlier this year to be a part of the 20-man squad that will compete at the tournament in Coffs Harbour.
After working as school teacher in Wandoan, south west Queensland for four years, a move to the Sunshine Coast didn't pan out and he headed overseas instead.
He decided to stay put after meeting an English girl and he qualified for the tag side having lived in the country for more than three years.
The primary school teacher has strong roots in the valley and played plenty of sport - including cricket, touch football and rugby league - locally.
His parents live in Upper Tenthill and the Russ Zirbel Memorial Wicket at the Ropehill cricket ground is named after his grandfather.
But it wasn't until he lived in London that he became hooked on Oztag.
The game is similar to touch but a player is "tagged” when a strip of cloth attached to their shorts with Velcro is removed.
Zirbel admitted it was "bittersweet” to be pulling on the colours of another nation but he had his sights set firmly on taking out the crown. Almost half of the squad is made up of Aussies and the head coach hails from New Zealand.
"The best thing is it's in Australia and my family is going to be there,” he said.
He said the Great Britain team was eager to play against Australia and New Zealand, who have both been drawn in their pool.
"Obviously the game is called Oztag for a reason, (Australia is) the pinnacle of it. It will be good to test ourselves against them,” he said. "We're going in with the intention to win it. We've definitely got the talent in that team to do it.”
Living in London is a world away from regional Queensland: "It took a fair bit to get used to,” he said.