From the Torres Strait to the Reds: Moses Sorovi's journey from rugby league heartland to Super Rugby professional

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

His love for football was forged on a sun-baked basketball court in the Torres Strait where Moses Sorovi dreamed of running on to Suncorp Stadium in a maroon jersey.

Rugby league was king on Yam Island, a two square kilometre blip in the central Torres Strait about 100km northwest of Thursday Island, where livewire Reds half Moses Sorovi grew up.

Lote Tuqiri was his footy idol -- but long before his switch to rugby -- and the young Sorovi dreamed of playing for the Broncos or the Queensland maroons on rugby league's hallowed turf.

He will run out there tonight as the Reds' scrumhalf and as he steps around Crusaders defenders, Sorovi will hark back to a skillset forged playing three-on-three touch on an island basketball court.

The young boys hit the court when the sting went out of the tropical sun but their feet still blistered as they ripped up the painted concrete surface, their moves as audacious as the dreams that filled their heads.

Reds scrumhalf Moses Sorovi. Photo: Rugby AU Media/Stuart Walmsley Yam Island has a population of about 500 and there was no organised junior rugby league in the community but that could not stop Sorovi from dreaming big.

"You'd just go to the basketball court and play three-on-three touch and that's it," he said of the organised sporting opportunities open to him as a junior.

"It's just an outdoor court ... (you'd) try running, no shoes, you get massive blisters on your feet.

"We waited until the sun goes down and we'd go and play."

It was not until Sorovi went to boarding school at St Peters Lutheran College in Brisbane, almost 3000km to the south, that he was introduced to rugby union but he was hooked immediately.

Starting at the Indooroopilly college in Year 8 following older brother George on a scholarship, Sorovi's dreams were now in the other rugby code.

"It all started at St Peters," he said of his rugby journey.

"I played all my rugby through St Peters and then graduated after St Peters and went on to the reds 20s program and kept going.

"I think back home everyone's dream was to become a rugby league player and play for the Broncos or the Queensland Maroons.

"I never thought about playing rugby union but St Peters gave me the opportunity to play and now I'm here."

Will Genia come back? Photo: Getty ImagesReds nine Will Genia was the young Sorovi's idol and he was soon determined to follow in his footsteps.

"We grew up watching the Reds boys, so that was probably the only team I knew.

"I always wanted to play for the Reds."

The Wallabies half has continued to be a touchstone for Sorovi, who has eagerly accepted the advice that has come his way from the 100-cap Red.

"I've spoken to him a couple of times, it's always a good chat with him," Sorovi said of the his now Rebels rival.

"It's good to have feedback from him, so I always take it on board."

Genia was the last halfback to lead Queensland to a win over the Crusaders, something he did while helping the Reds claim the Super Rugby title in 2011.

And beating the champion Kiwi outfit is a feat Sorovi would love to emulate.

"It'd be good to have a chance to go out there this weekend and have a crack at the Crusaders,"Sorovi said.

"We had a good game last weekend but this week is going to be even tougher, I reckon."

After making his debut against the Brumbies in 2017, Sorovi had 10 caps to his credit heading into this season and he's determined to make the nine his own.

His progress has not been lost on Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, who summed him up as a threat to his side.

"Sorovi, the nine, can run and when he's on if you give him space, he's hard to contain," Robertson said, having been asked initially about his impression of boom youngster Jordan Petaia.

Dillon Hunt of the Highlanders tries to block the kick of Moses Sorovi of the Queensland Reds during the Round 2 Super Rugby match between the Otago Highlanders and Queensland Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium on February 22, 2019 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)Like Petaia, Sorovi has followed the Rookies to Reds pathway and is keen to establish himself as a longterm Queensland player.

"That is a goal. But you've got to work for the jersey as well.

"At the moment, the nine jersey is up for grabs. Tate (McDermott) and Scotty and James Tuttle, they're all good halfbacks and it's good to have them around to compete with.

"That's how you get better."

 

Sorovi's family proudly watches his progress from Yam Island and the newly minted Deadly Choices ambassador would love nothing more than to see more indigenous kids playing rugby.

"It was out of the blue but it's a privilege to be a part of the Deadly Choices program," he said of the Reds' partnership with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health's popular program.

"It'd be awesome for me to be a role model to other indigenous kids - and not only indigenous kids, other kids as well.

Moses Sorovi scores a try against the Highlanders wearing the Reds' indigenous jersey. Photo: Getty Images

"It'd be good to see more indigenous kids playing rugby union.

"There's a lot of good talent playing rugby league but most of them don't get to the NRL.

"But rugby union's always another pathway to playing professional football and it'd be good to see more follow the rugby union pathway as well."

Spreading the rugby gospel to the "so many good talents" in the Cape and Torres Strait would be a dream for Sorovi.

It might start on a basketball court -- just this time with a Gilbert instead of a Steeden.

The Reds take on the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, March 2, at 7:45pm AEDT, (6:45pm local) LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.