THE Riverina is home to some of the finest agricultural producers in Australia. It is also a region that is renowned for sporting success stories.
It is not unusual for an individual to juggle the commitments of working in a family farming business or the rural sector and then backing it up with several sessions of strenuous training a week to meet their sporting goals. This week The Rural talks to former NRL Toyota Cup player and member of Gundagai Tigers, James Luff. Luff and his family farm “Cotway,” at Adjungbilly and they are known for producing sheep and cattle and top-quality working dogs.
JAMES Luff has the perfect training ground. The characteristic Adjungbilly hills are what he calls home and it is also the location where his family farm “Cotway”, a grazing property which runs Bond sheep and Angus cattle.
Adjungbilly is also in the drawing area for the popular Group Nine club Gundagai Tigers. It is this club that allowed Luff to start his career in playing rugby league as a junior.
“It was good to be rubbing shoulders with the best there is and I gained a lot of experience … but Sydney wasn’t for me,” he said.
“I was interested in getting home and being on the property.”
“People don’t care for you in Sydney like they do in Gundagai … when you come home to Gundagai they have fire crackers for you,” he laughs.
Playing for Wests Tigers as an 18-year-old was certainly a highlight and one to be proud of. But that said, getting a win for Gundagai in 2015 after the club experienced a 40-year-long drought is what he identifies as the pinnacle.
Luff attended St Gregory’s College at Campbelltown and this put him in close proximity to the action of the NRL. However, the lure of Adjungbilly and the activity of the family’s rural pursuits was enough for him to return home where he is a fifth-generation farmer.
Luff, now 24, will play for Gundagai Tigers this year after recovering from a knee reconstruction. He said pre-season training was underway and there were two sessions a week.
The crossover between sport and agriculture is something that runs in the family. Luff’s father Bill played cricket for NSW and his brother Will plays rugby union for the Tumut Bulls. He said Gundagai was a town where everybody loved their footy. “It is a real footy town,” he said.
Luff said there were certainly opportunities for young people in agriculture to embrace sport. “I was lucky that Dad was supportive when I pursue my personal (goals),” he said.