The 2017 Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia Queensland Conference ended yesterday (Thursday 26 Oct 17) with a Rugby League parable.
It was delivered by Australian, Queensland and Cowboys champion, Brent Tate.
Tate captivated a large audience with his frankness and insights about his career.
He underwent 19 surgeries including four knee reconstructions, nine ankle injuries plus groin, shoulder, throat and jaw damage during a career that began in 2001 with the Broncos and ended in 2014 with the Cowboys.
He was recruited to the Cowboys in 2011 as the embodiment of a culture the club aspired to.
As fate would have it, he suffered his third ACL knee reconstruction playing in the Four Nations final the previous year but was back on the field by Round 19 next year for the Cowboys.
His dedication to his rehabilitation program inspired those around him.
He attributed his success to his mother whom he described as a “tough old bugger”.
“Mum was a single parent and worked two jobs to raise three kids,” he said.
Surprisingly it wasn’t master coaches Wayne Bennett or Mal Meninga who inspired Tate to rise to the zenith of his chosen sport.
It was his under 10s coach in Brisbane, Trevor Gosling, who gave him the focus that would transform him into a champion.
“He was a hard task master who demanded your gave your best,” Tate recalled.
An amputee who coached from the sideline on crutches, Gosling was a good judge of playing ability.
“I remember Trevor said to me when I played in the under 12 team that I would play for Australia and he would be there to watch me,” Tate said.
“And he was there, I saw him in the crowd … I still get goose bumps remembering the incident.”
Tate ended his playing career in 2014 with his fourth ACL rupture and knew it was time to end his stellar career.
“I felt the expectation lift from me … it was like a release. I was driven by the fear of failure,” he said.
Tate is proud of the role he played in creating a new culture in the club, which culminated with a Cowboys’ grand final victory in 2015.
He has seamlessly shifted into a commercial role with the Cowboys but admitted that he is yet to find his next niche in life.
More than 30 presentations were delivered by experts in a wide range of fields as diverse as astronomy and extending the life of wooden bridges.
A record 350 delegates attended the three-day conference.