Sport

Canberra teenager out to create history as unique dual international

He is a teenage, 100-kilogram behemoth who already powerlifts more than his body weight and wants to become the first person to play NRL and compete at the Olympics in judo. 

And Raiders Harold Matthews prop Sam Dobb is using Roosters youngster Willis Meehan as inspiration that he can excel at the elite level in two sports. 

Sam Dobb, in blue, appears to have all the moves against Tom Hill.
Sam Dobb, in blue, appears to have all the moves against Tom Hill. Photo: Jay Cronan

His West Belconnen under-16 coach Adam Peters, who played 46 games for the Raiders and Manly, has no doubt he will enjoy success on the big stage. 

Exactly which sport the multi-talented youngsters decides to achieve that in is anyone's guess. 

Sam Dobb and trainer Tom Hill, who won gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
Sam Dobb and trainer Tom Hill, who won gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Jay Cronan

"I don't know what sport he's going to choose, everything he picks up he just excels in,'' Peters said. 

"He powerlifts 115kg and that's phenomenol, I was doing 80kg [when playing NRL].

Advertisement

"There's avenues with rugby league to earn a professional living, but in judo there's always the chance to go to the Olympics. 

"He's the biggest in our team and the leading try-scorer in the under 16s, he runs straight around fullbacks. 

"He's got a great attitude. On a rest day he'll go and swim two kilometres in the pool.''

The 16-year-old outpointed competitors two years his senior and over 30 kilograms heavier to win the Australian under-18 judo title at Wollongong on the Queen's Birthday weekend. 

He is being trained by Tom Hill, who won judo gold the last time it was included at a Commonwealth Games in 2002, and his brother Steve, who has coached at an Olympics. 

While judo will feature at Glasgow this year, it has not been included on the 2018 Commonwealth Games schedule, meaning Dobb is aiming for the 2020 Olympics as his big stage entrance.

Meehan, who made his NRL debut against Newcastle last week, narrowly missed Commonwealth Games boxing selection when beaten by Joseph Goodall in the trials last month. 

Meehan's story has given Dobb belief he can juggle two sports.

"I read about him and then I thought, why not? It can be done, I reckon,'' he said. 

"If you have the right coach who believes in you and thinks you can do both, it would help a lot.''

A former swimmer, Dobb fell in love with judo when former swim coach Cameron Gledhill urged him to try it three years ago to improve his core strength.  

He tipped the scales at just 73 kilograms when he represented Australia at the Junior Olympics in January last year. 

But a steak and salmon diet and strict gym regimen means he now weighs as much as Raiders first grade lock Shaun Fensom. 

"My swim coach said to try out judo. I enjoyed the contact heaps,'' Dobb said. 

"He wanted me to swim still, but my heart just got more into judo. I still try and do a bit in the water, but the judo training's my focus.''

Tom Hill believes the overlapping skills in league and judo will help Dobb achieve his dream. 

"Judo and football are hand in hand,'' he said.

''Watching football as a fan you can see the teams who do the most wrestling, and the subtleties.. 

"It'll be interesting. If he's a good enough player his club would probably say he could [also compete in judo]. 

"Being big and strong is one thing but he's actually got a lot of technique.

"The other boys [at Wollongong] were about a foot taller than him, but he's got the technique and strength to overcome that.''

With NRL coaches focusing far more on winning the wrestling battle, Dobb believes judo has improved his football. 

"I feel like judo has helped my football heaps, especially the groundwork,'' he said. 

"Now rugby league is so focused on the wrestle on the ground, it really helps. 

"When I come up against bigger people in footy, I find them easier to tackle using a bit of judo.''

Peters revealed his judo skills had already helped him keep out of trouble on the football field. 

"He's still got a long way to go with this footy, potentially he's got the attributes,'' Peters said. 

"In one of our games a guy punched him in the face, and he got him locked into an aggressive judo move. 

"The referee sent them both off but Sam got exonerated. I've seen him lose the plot a bit, he's come a long way in that regard.''