Syris Schmidt is a young Samoan-Niuean man making a name for himself in Australian rugby ranks. The Southport School five-eighth is directing his team on field as well as his career options outside of rugby. Syris has played representative grades in both rugby and league having played for Queensland in rugby league and Queensland Reds U16, and U18.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Syris Schmidt and I am 17 years old. I was born and raised in Grey Lynn, Auckland NZ and now live in the Gold Coast, Australia. I attend The Southport School. I play both rugby union and rugby league and I will be graduating at the end of 2021.
How are you dealing with Covid-19 and the uncertainty it brings?
Due to Covid, I have found it really hard to train and prepare for the season. Not training is one thing, but it was hard not being able to see my friends and family back in NZ. Especially my older brother Keaston, who works away in Western Australia. He has been stuck there for a while now. But in saying that I have adapted to my training schedules and how I see my friends and family.
You grew up playing league in New Zealand and then Australia, why the switch to rugby?
My parents put me in rugby league when I was 4 years old. It’s always been a big part of my families lives especially for my older brother and Dad. When we moved to Australia, it started getting a bit more serious and I was getting recognised a bit at school and club level. The reason I changed to rugby union was my parents saw an opportunity to gain a higher education at the private school I moved to (The Southport School) in year 9. From there I joined the rugby team and I’ve loved every moment since. Next year will be my 3rd and final year playing 1st XV for TSS.
What are you planning on achieving in the sport?
From sport, I hope to get some sort of financial help for University to take stress off my parents and my older brother while also making life long bonds with all my mates I have met over the years. If I could play professionally that would be a dream come true but the first goal is to get through University.
Who inspires and motivates you to keep chasing your goals?
All of my family members are my motivation. Starting with my Mum, Dad and my siblings, all the way to my extended family back in NZ. It’d be the best feeling to do something big that makes them proud.
What’s it been like playing most of your rugby/league career in Australia?
I think playing in Australia has definitely developed me much more as a player. The rep teams from a young age always drive all the players to be better. It also opens up pathways in multiple sports and gives opportunities to learn from experienced coaches. Thanks to my parents for bringing me to Australia because it has given me so many more opportunities.
What’s your biggest lesson since being over there?
My biggest lesson from being in Australia is that hard work will always beat talent because talent doesn’t work hard. Everyone starts at different levels but being naturally gifted only gets you so far. So many kids who were unknown in the younger grades are now being recognised in their final years of school and graduating ages from hard work and perseverance compared to some that had talent in the younger years but got left behind. Luckily, I have my parents and older brother Keaston and also my mates that have constantly pushed me throughout my whole life.
What advice would you give players moving from New Zealand to Australia to play sport?
For players moving from NZ to Australia, I’d urge them to be prepared for hard work. Oppositions are constantly out to prove a point and don’t care for reputation. Furthermore, coaches highlight the importance of being a good person as well as a good player so that plays a huge role if you are wanting to be successful over here.
What career would you like to pursue away from the code and why?
Right now I’m unsure of what career path I’d like to pursue after school. I have a few options I am interested in studying at university. I have been looking into Civil Engineering but have a few other options I’d like to look into further as well. It is important to me to have a stable career outside of sport so I am able to help and give back to my family as they have done and continue to do for me.
Interests outside of rugby/sport?
Outside of playing rugby and league – I enjoy hanging out with all my mates, especially going to the beach since I live in such a nice city. Otherwise I’m at home or going out with my family which is really important as we’re all so close and tight knit. Me and my mates sometimes enter teams in the local oztag competition in the off season as well, because staying fit is also important. I also enjoy going gym with dad or with my friends.
Three people you get to invite to dinner (here or no longer here with us), who would it be and why?
Due to COVID, I would almost make this table up of my whole family from back home but these are the top 3 that come to mind for different reasons. Darren Lockyer, my Grandad Fred and my mum’s Aunty Dahlia. Darren Lockyer has been my life long idol since a young kid and the reason I support Brisbane Broncos. I love the passion he plays with and his professional attitude. My Grandad Fred Schmidt passed away before I was born. From what I’ve heard he was a very influential man so I’d love to have the chance to speak with him. And my Mum’s Aunty Dahlia. I was only a baby when she passed away and unfortunately didn’t get time to know her. My mum always tells me stories about how lovely, funny and cool she was. And how well she treated my mum so to meet her would be a great opportunity.