Coleman's inspiration close to home

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

When Adam Coleman made his Wallabies debut, he stood in the tunnel not quite able to comprehend the opportunity.

Sitting on the bench in Sydney, awaiting his Test chance, the overriding thought in his mind was of his parents - especially mum, Jennifer, a constant presence in his life and in every match he plays.

“I always think about my mum and dad before I run out, it's something that always motivates you every game because you know you want to make them proud,” he says.

“They sacrificed so much for you, especially my mum. She raised me as a single parent and the sacrifice she made is massive and I always wear my mum on my left wrist when I run out to play and it's pretty special for me.”


My dream for playing for Australia will be one I will never forget . #debut #895 #sacrifices #family @wallabies @westernforce

A photo posted by Adam Coleman (@adamcoleman13) on

Coleman took to chief lineout calling duties with ease after just two Tests, a capability he puts down to a maturity forced upon him at a young age, something for which he is incredibly grateful.

“I remember being down at home at Hobart, we didn't have a lot of money, Mum didn't have a car so she was trying to work and support me and I can't imagine how hard that would be,” he says.

“I'm 11, 12 years old having to ride 3ks to school, but my mum always made sure I had food in my belly, a roof over my head, which gave me the opportunity [to play sport] and she's always been very supportive.”

His father, former Tonga captain Pau’u Afeaki, passed away when he was 12 and rugby remains the string that Coleman feels ties him to Afeaki and his Tongan heritage.

“I think a massive part of me playing rugby is to still be associated with my culture,” he says.

“I could've easily drifted away from my Tongan heritage and I think in a way rugby's brought me closer to my Tongan side. - Adam Coleman

"My aunty, she lives in Auckland, she made sure that I didn't drift away from my Tongan side. I always go visit her every year and she really made sure that I do know where I'm from, where my dad's from, the history of our family and how big our family actually is.”

At 18, he moved to Canberra, a move that was an adjustment for both mother and son.

“Me being an only child, I suppose, moving out of Hobart was a big thing for her to let go but she's very supportive in the way that she's let me pursue my rugby career,” he says.

“I [remember] the first time I broke my nose in Canberra and she just flipped out, I thought she was going to fly over but she's definitely more comfortable with me getting injured now.

“I didn't know anyone in Canberra and it was a pretty humbling experience I think, coming home from training and dinner not being cooked, stuff like that, you had to grow up pretty quick.”

Coleman spent two years in Canberra, before moving to Sydney and making his Super Rugby debut for the Waratahs in 2013, the only match in which he would feature for NSW, before moving west to the Force in 2014.

Distance hasn’t dulled their relationship, even in time zones far apart like when Coleman embarked on his first Spring Tour.

“She called me this morning at like 4am,” he says.

“She's always calling me, seeing how my knee is, [asking] how I’m feeling about the game,” he says.

“She doesn't know that much about rugby, she wouldn't have a clue, but at least she shows the interest.”

Coleman’s 2016 season was ended by injury, an unlucky collision against Scotland that cut short his Spring Tour and a year that he still can’t quite believe.

Adam Coleman continues to impress in Wallaby gold. Photo: Getty Images“You look at the players that are  running on next to you, you've watched them for a number of years go out and play against the All Blacks and wanted to run [out] next to them and you find yourself doing that in the tunnel and you have that surreal moment where you're like, ‘I'm actually doing this, like, this is pretty cool’,” he says.

“To be able to wear that jersey is something very special and something I'll never forget, it sounds very cliche but it's so true.

“Only [903] have played for the Wallabies and it's definitely something I'll always remember.”

It’s a memory Coleman will have not just for himself but for Jennifer and the rest of his family.

“Knowing that your family has done so much for you just to get you into school and make sure you're on the right path, for me to be in this position right now is very humbling,” he says.

“I think I could've easily gone down another road but thankfully my mum made sure I did go down the right path and I did finish school and I did make sure I pursued rugby after school.

“It's pretty cool to look back now and think my mum was a major part of that.”