Bulldogs host wheelchair rugby athletes
The 2018 Wheelchair Rugby World Championships are being held at Sydney Olympic Park from August 5-10.
The world's top 12 twelves will fight to claim victory, including Australia, who are the reigning champions and have started this year's tournament with four victories after wins over New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden.
Prior to the commencement of the tournament, the Australian Steelers were invited to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs round 21 match with the Brisbane Broncos at ANZ Stadium, where the Bulldogs defeated the Broncos 36-22.
"We have been lucky enough to have the whole team up in a box to watch the game. A big thanks to the Bulldogs and we're going to have a great night," captain Ryley Batt said during the night.
Batt is the current captain of the Steelers team and was first introduced to the sport as a 12-year-old following a demonstration event at his school.
He was born without legs and although he did not use a wheelchair during the first 12 years of his life, it did not take him long to adapt to using one, and three years later he made his Paralympic debut at the 2004 Athens Games.
Match: Bulldogs v Warriors
Venue: ANZ Stadium
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The 29-year old has since won two gold and one silver medal at four Paralympic Games.
"Growing up, I was born with my disability. I couldn't play tackle footy so the next best thing for me was to play wheelchair rugby. It's like a fast-paced dodgem, cars. I recommend anyone to come out and check it out. Television doesn't give it justice, just like rugby league. Coming out and watching it in the flesh is a whole different level. Until you come and watch the sport, you won't understand how hard the hits can be," Batt added.
The Steelers are the overwhelming favourites to claim this year's title and the side is confident they can deliver the team's first major win on home soil.
"It's going to be phenomenal and we just want to make sure that we can hold that cup up in front of the Australian fans and especially our friends and family," Batt said.
"We have 11 teams here that are trying to knock us off that number one spot. We have quite a lot of pressure on us, but hopefully we will retain it and be the first team to ever win world champs at home," added Steelers player Michael Ozanne.