A day in the life of NRL star and UQ student Pat Carrigan
With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the 2020 NRL season to a halt, Brisbane Broncos star and UQ Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) student Pat Carrigan admits his life was been turned upside down.
The 22-year-old was on top of the world at the start of the season, co-captaining the Broncos to victory in the opening two rounds.
He said the COVID-19 lockdown protocols had interrupted his general daily routine, but the hardest part was being isolated from his best friends – his Broncos teammates.
“The best part of being an athlete in a team sport is the constant interaction with your mates on a daily basis,” Carrigan said.
“It’s safe to say that isolation is well and truly starving me of this. But at the same time, my days have been packed with more activities that have made this time feel quite productive.”
This included extra time to focus on his university degree, something he wouldn’t normally get to do at this point in a regular NRL season.
As the NRL season resumes, the boom back-rower spoke to Contact about what a typical day was like for an NRL player in lockdown.
I wake up just before sunrise and my day always begins with a morning shower. Some people swear by their daily latte, but I swear by a morning shower. After a quick rinse, I step out the door with every intention of taking a gentle stroll. One of my favourite parts of waking up early and doing some form of exercise is the feeling of achieving something as the sun rises.
Generally, the gentle stroll quickly turns into a brisk walk and ultimately ends in a sweat-drenched sprint, courtesy of my puppy, Harley. She’s a border collie cross kelpie, full of energy and loves to be outside. Truth be told, she is one of the main reasons my day begins so early.
After grabbing a coffee on the way home, I generally jump straight into the home gym and continue the morning with some strength training. With rugby league being an unforgiving contact sport, the importance of maintaining strength gains from the pre-season is paramount during these times – especially for someone in my position of lock. I am super lucky to have put together a pretty decent set-up in my garage, which features a squat rack, bench press, dumbbells, a rowing machine and a heavy boxing bag.
Strangely, I like to have breakfast a bit later than most people. It’s a personal choice, and I have done this ever since I started full-time training with the Broncos. I find that I train better on an empty stomach. Besides, it gives me an excuse to eat more! Scrambled eggs and avocado on sourdough, with a smoothie, is a must.
The middle part of my day predominantly consists of navigating Blackboard, watching online lectures and ‘Zooming’ in on practical classes. Studying a part-time Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) degree includes about 14 contact hours each week, with an added emphasis on practical components.
Managing study commitments and a full-time professional sporting career is often quite challenging, but isolation is making things a whole lot easier.
Generally speaking, as a studying athlete you always feel like you are in a rush: training, attending a lecture, catching up on yesterday’s practical lesson, attending another lecture, and getting back to training. While I’m certainly missing training and playing football, it’s a weird feeling to have a structured study routine at home – but I’m certainly enjoying it.
My afternoons consist of getting some much-needed kilometres into the legs. As I haven’t been able to attend the club because of biosecurity concerns, I head to the local sporting field and complete the conditioning sessions set out by our high-performance staff. These sessions involve high-speed running metres, accelerations and change-of-direction conditioning work.
After arriving home, I tend to make dinner straight away. I’m into the current season of MasterChef Australia (featuring UQ graduate Ben Milbourne), so I tend to cook dinner and gain some inspiration at the same time. Cooking at this time makes me feel like I’m whipping up something that tastes a lot better than it actually does!
After dinner, I generally attempt to do some more study. However, if I’m happy with where I’m at, I go straight to Netflix. The Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance is my go-to show at the moment. Whether it’s a biography or documentary, I love to finish the day reading or hearing about the habits of other people. I think there’s so much to learn from successful people in different disciplines. It’s certainly the ‘iso-motivation’ I need to rise before the sun the next day.
Podcast: the financial future of football
For more than a century, our football codes have helped shape our suburbs, states, and national identity. But as the NRL and AFL scramble to re-start their competitions, the COVID-19 pandemic could change these games forever – while some football codes may never recover. Listen to the podcast now.