Sport

Country boy Ridge to tackle Eels

Ben Ridge
Ben Ridge Matt Roberts

EELS second-rower Nathan Hindmarsh receives plenty of praise for his courage. And while his opponent on Sunday doesn't have the same high profile, Ben Ridge sure is one tough nut.

Ridge gets a needle in his shoulder before every game to manage an AC joint complaint, and he also has niggling pectoral and medial ligament injuries.

But when you're brought up on a property near the proud football town of Roma, playing tough on a footy paddock runs in your blood.

Ridge, 22, attended Bymount East State School - between Roma and outpost Injune.

The school had just 19 students and one teacher when he was there, with the tiny community enabling Ridge to learn valuable leadership skills.

That is why you won't see him shirking his duties, despite the fact he is walking wounded, because the Titans need to win their remaining three games to make the finals.

"It's do or die for us so you've just got to get out there and be amongst it. There aren't many games left in the season so you may as well be out there giving it your all," he said.

It was also Ridge's country roots that saved Titans legend Preston Campbell from a brown snake attack at training in 2010, with the back-rower stepping in to throw the reptile into a nearby creek.

"That (the jibes) stuck for a while and they only recently stopped," he laughed.

In Years 11 and 12, Ridge was good enough to attend rugby league nursery St Brendan's College, Yeppoon, playing alongside Rabbitohs superstar Dave Taylor.

Taylor will join the Titans next year, something Ridge is excited about.

"He was so damaging with his size. He was so quick and he had great ball skills," Ridge said.

"There would've been something wrong if he didn't make it to where he is now."

Despite being adept at handling snakes, Ridge knows it is a legendary Eel in Hindmarsh who will indeed be a handful at Skilled Park this Sunday.

"He's a relentless kind of footy player. I've always looked up to him even though he's from New South Wales," he said.

Ridge believes the Eels' no-fear attacking approach has been a big factor in them winning three of their past four games.

He surely won't be panicking though - he will follow his pre-game ritual of listening to country music stars including Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney.

"I love the country and I'll probably end up heading back out there after footy," he said.

"At the moment I'm contemplating doing my helicopter licence so that'll open a few windows.

"I'll end up on the farm with the old man."

Topics:  gold coast titans, nathan hindmarsh, nrl, parramatta eels



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