HEART OF GOLD: West Tigers’ fan Sam Sears treasures the shirt his heroes signed for him after they heard the 15-year-old had to quit playing football on medical grounds. INSET: Rovers’ coach Tony Kaufman presents the shirt to Sam. Photo: VALERIE HORTON 10h1943a
HEART OF GOLD: West Tigers’ fan Sam Sears treasures the shirt his heroes signed for him after they heard the 15-year-old had to quit playing football on medical grounds. INSET: Rovers’ coach Tony Kaufman presents the shirt to Sam. Photo: VALERIE HORTON 10h1943a

Sam tackles life

MARYBOROUGH’S Sam Sears was absolutely gutted when he was told he had to stop playing rugby league for Rovers this year.

The 15-year-old had no choice. His life depended on it.

A doctor heard a murmur in his heart during a routine check-up when Sam had the flu.

Further tests revealed much more - young Sam had a tumour in the heart, something that required immediate open heart surgery.

He had his surgery in Brisbane, but Sam’s battles with health were not over yet and one week later he had more surgery due to complications.

The Aldridge State High School student spent the next two months in hospital where watching his beloved Wests Tigers on TV helped him overcome the pain of facing a future without playing the game he loved.

Sam supports Wests Tigers with a passion because his late father Les barracked for Balmain.

It was also because of his father that Sam started playing rugby league as a nine-year-old, the same year his father, a former player himself, passed away after a heart attack.

Although Sam wasn’t happy about having to give up playing, his favourite NRL club made sure the young centre had something to smile about.

They sent him a replica jersey signed by his heroes.

But how they heard about Sam’s disappointment is a story in itself, one in which three men all played a part.

Sam’s coach at Rovers, Tony Kaufman, started the ball rolling.

He wanted to do something to show Sam that the whole club missed him so he contacted Hervey Bay’s Damian Lindeberg to see if he could help – he sure could.

His good friend is Sunshine Coast horse trainer Mick Mair whose brother Alan is the Wests Tigers Football operations manager. He was only too happy to help out.

Needless to say, you couldn’t wipe the smile off Sam’s face when his coach presented him with the special jersey.

Sam is thrilled with his new jersey.

“I cannot believe so many people went to all this trouble for me,” he said.

“It’s unreal and I am so grateful.”

While his playing career is over, Sam is still keen to stay involved in the game.

“I’d like to do some coaching if I can,” he said.

Shaz Sears says she is very proud of her son.

“He’s gone through so much this year,” she said.

“The friendship and support of his teammates, his coach Tony and his wife Jos, helped Sam through the tough times.

“Saying that, Sam did drive Tony a bit mad asking for a run when he was feeling better,” she laughed.

“Sam has been a very brave boy this year, but he wouldn’t admit it.

“He’s been more worried about how I’ve been coping.”



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