From Caboolture to the Grand Final
HE IS the Caboolture boy just 80 minutes away from a NRL premiership, and for rugby league star Corey Horsburgh's family the fairytale is just beginning.
Speaking to the Sunday Mail the morning after the Canberra Raiders secured their spot in next Sunday's Grand Final with an epic victory over South Sydney, the 21-year-old's parents Rick and Sandra were hoarse from cheering but bursting with pride.
Together they are Corey's biggest fans, with Rick saying the close-knit Queensland family was estatic to see their boy - whose on-field prowess has earned him the nickname "Horsepower" - set to play on footy's biggest stage.
"It's just awesome for one of his dreams to come so early, in his first year," he said.
"The whole family is extremely proud, the phone has been running hot from all the extended family, his old coaches, all wanting to send their congratulations."
Rick, a prison guard, has trekked from their Caboolture home to more than a dozen games since Corey made his debut earlier this year, always decked out in his signature "lucky" pineapple Raiders shirt.
While he watches from the sidelines eagerly, Sandra said she gets "incredibly nervous" seeing her son among the rough-and-tumble of the game.
"I don't like to watch, I tend to listen," she said.
"I've been like that all his life with him and all the other kids."
Sandra said their youngest son was the "shyest" of her children, but that Corey loved following his older brother Jake around and was a sports nut from an early age whether it be cricket, athletics, AFL and of course, league.
She said a childhood illness meant Corey didn't learn to swim until Year 7, but his tenacity and dedication meant that when he did, he was swim champion by Year 8.
"He was always very good at whatever he put his mind to - he's like a dog with a bone once he sets his mind to something," she said.
"I'm extremely proud of the young man he's turned into.
"Football is obviously his love and his passion, and to be able to achieve this milestone so quickly is very special."
As Rick was reminded by one of Corey's junior coaches shortly after Friday night's game, his son "always went for the biggest kid on the opposing team".
Corey showed his talents for multiple sports as a youngster, and even played in Under-16s league and AFL grand finals on the same day.
In July Corey signed a three-year deal with the Raiders which will see him remain in Canberra until at least the end of the 2022 season.
And as for the week leading up to the biggest game of his life, Rick said he expected Corey to take it all in his stride.
"The boy doesn't seem to get overly nervous," he said.
"He's going to have a wonderful week that he, and us, will remember for the rest of our lives."