All the way from the USA (and specifically Texas!) we have been lucky enough to be joined by a Sydney University ‘Study Abroad’ student who has been helping us in the office here at SUFC for the past couple of months.

Gabi Taylor is studying Sports Psychology back at home, but is undertaking work experience with us to get an insight into the sports industry. Also a passionate writer however, Gabi has been put to the task of writing a series of Player Profiles to allow you to get to know some of our players on a whole new level!

Our first profile features one of our current Club Captains – Benn Melrose.

Enjoy the read!

Benn Melrose

He sits down across from me at Ralph’s Café with a massive bowl of pasta and an even bigger grin. I’m not sure if it’s the food in front of him, or that he has training soon, or the fact that he’s about to be badgered with questions for the next half hour, but he seems happy to be here.

Benn Melrose may not have sidestepped out of the womb, but rugby was definitely in his blood since day one. As he would say, he was born into the sport and it became a part of his life when he was just four years old. To my befuddled look, he explains that when you have seven men in your family that have all played rugby at a high level, and when your dad is a professional coach, not playing rugby is kind of out of the question. But he’s quick to say that he is in love with the sport and that it’s always been his decision to play.

Even at a young age, he had high ambitions: when asked what he wanted to be when he was younger, Benn replied “I wanted to be Batman, of course. But when I realised that wasn’t an option, I set my goals on becoming a professional rugby player.”

Benn captained 2nd Grade in last year’s Grand Final

He’s done an impressive job of working to achieve this goal; he has numerous accomplishments from being First Grade Colts Premiership Captain in 2011 and 2012, to participating in the Australian Under 20 Junior World Cup games in 2012, to contributing to the 1st Grade Australian Club Championships in 2013 and 2014, and finally to being joint Club Captain this year.

While Benn is extremely focused on the game, he is also a very serious student. He is in his fifth year completing his combined Bachelor of Laws and Commerce, and is interested in management consulting/ private equity/ investment banking (aka he is undecided on what exactly he wants to do in the future). It’s easy to tell that Benn is committed to maintaining a strong balance between school and sport. He says his teammates would likely describe him as being super involved and serious with his studies and with improving as a player.

When asked what his greatest achievements are, he replied “I have two. My greatest accomplishment outside of rugby is getting the high score of 99 on my HSC ATAR and receiving a scholarship to come to Sydney Uni. My second greatest accomplishment, rugby related, is being picked to play for the Australian Under 20’s team in 2012 to play in the Junior World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa. We played against France at the Newlands Stadium in front of the biggest crowd I’ve ever played for. It was insane.”

When he isn’t playing rugby or studying, Benn is probably on Manly beach or watching Huey’s cooking show: “I look food, I like talking about food, and I even try and cook sometimes.” This comes as no surprise as I watch him inhale his pasta across the table.

Although Benn continually insists he is uninteresting, his pregame rituals say otherwise. He has several quirky pregame techniques that he swears by. He reports that eating the same meal of Spaghetti Bolognese, taking a cold shower, and brushing his teeth right before he plays all led him to play to the best of his ability.

As this is Benn’s fifth and final year at Sydney Uni, needless to say he has a lot to focus on and even more he wants to accomplish within the next year. His major goals for the next couple months are to win another Premiership at the club and to graduate with the highest average he possibly can. When asked what the most exciting thing in his life right now is, he responds: “Between graduating from my law degree and working out who I’m going to take as my date to the player ball, both are equally important.”

Given his easy going and friendly nature, it’s no wonder Benn plays such a large role in the success of the rugby club and that his teammates look up to him. He exudes enthusiasm and love for the sport and is very excited for the rest of this season: “As a club, we’re starting to gel together more and we’re in a great position to do well and to continue growing as a team.”