Former Magpie Purcell joins Q-Cup side the Ipswich Jets
HE HAS beaten a life threatening kidney disease and conquered the New York Marathon.
Now new Ipswich Jets recruit Michael Purcell wants to crack the Intrust Super Cup team, play on TV and do his family proud.
The 22-year-old former Mitchell Magpies winger/fullback is a tribute to where hard work and belief can get you.
Purcell was just 17 at the time and said de Castella was an inspiration and mentor to him.
“There was a lot of hard work involved,” Purcell said.
“I had eight months of training after starting from nothing.
“I’d just come out of school and took full advantage of the opportunity.”
Purcell spent time at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and raced in Sydney and on the Gold Coast, where he completed a half-marathon.
The highlight was a visit to New York where he ran in the iconic marathon with thousands of other competitors.
“There was a group of 15 to 20 of us and to get to New York we had to keep being successful and work hard to make it,” he said.
“They took 11 of us over there, all of us indigenous.
“I finished the marathon, although a couple of times during the race I wanted to stop.
“But the atmosphere over there, and the crowd, just keeps you going. They are so supportive.
“You are running with 47,000 others and when you think about stopping everyone says, ‘Come on mate. You’ve got to keep going’.
“We ran through all the suburbs, like The Bronx. There were millions of spectators.”
Purcell visited all the sights of New York, and was blown away by Times Square.
“At midnight me and a few mates would walk down town and through Times Square and there was the same amount of people there as at 12 in the afternoon,” he grinned.
“They just never sleep.”
Purcell’s parents suggested to him that he commit hismelf to running or rugby league.
He followed that advice, but when he decided to have a go at footy he was hooked.
“I played A grade for Charleville, then went to Roma and district rugby league and played for Mitchell,” he said.
“Then last year I went to Wattles in Toowoomba and played half a season there.”
Purcell has links to the Jets.
His father is the uncle of Ipswich legend Wes Conlon.
Now he wants to crack the Jets top 17.
“Hopefully I will be able to play on TV,” he grinned.
“I just want to do everyone proud.
“Ben and Shane (Walker) are great to be coached by.
“They never say anything negative.
“They say if there is a break in the play, to just pick the ball up, pin your ears back and run. It is all about having confidence within yourself with them.”
Purcell exudes confidence, but he is also a courageous young fella.
When he was in Year 12 he was tackled on a field that had been flood damaged, and near-disaster followed.
“I got tackled and there was a bug that got in through my elbow where I grazed it, and it started eating away at my kidneys,” he said.
“I was having blood pressures of 180 over 150 and the nurses couldn’t work out why I wasn’t having a stroke or a heart attack.
“I was flown to Toowoomba and spent six weeks in the dialysis ward.
“It was frightening.
“I got through it and now I just want to make the most of every opportunity I get in life.”
Jets chairman Steve Johnson calls Purcell ‘the kangaroo catcher’ because legend has it he once ran down a kangaroo in the scrub after a cross-country chase.
Purcell has been training the house down at Jets training and co-coach Shane Walker said the rising star was on track to be one of the competition’s real excitement machines.
“From what we have seen of him at training so far he is a freakish talent,” Walker said.
“He has great awareness and turns up where the ball is, and in gaps.
“He could hide behind the goalpost without the pad on he is that skinny, but he is extremely strong. While he is a finely built guy he just has a real presence about him with the way he walks and shakes your hand.”