How a coin flip delivered Szepanowski to Capras
TYLER Szepanowski was sitting on the fence.
He was “torn” after a surprise phone call from new CQ Capras coach Guy Williams, who was just days into taking the helm of the Queensland Cup side.
“I was out for breakfast with my old man (Chris) and Guy gave me a call,” the 21-year-old recalled of the approach to lure the Moranbah product back home to CQ.
“At first I was kind of like ‘nah I’m pretty comfortable here at the (Burleigh) Bears but then I went home that night and sort of thought there might be a bit of merit in it.”
The young forward had a big decision to make.
Stay at the star-studded Burleigh Bears – a Gold Coast Titans feeder-club – and wait for his chance to crack into the Queensland Cup team?
Or return home to his former stomping ground and proudly wear a Capras jersey again?
“Honestly, I thought about it and thought about it and it sounds strange but the universe works in a funny way,” he said.
“So I just flipped a coin on it and all three times I flipped the coin it said to come back to the Capras.”
Yes, a heads and tails call with a fifty cent piece landed Williams his first prized signing just weeks out from the 2021 season.
“Really?” Williams said when told of Szepanowski’s coin flip.
“Wow, that’s cool.
“I’d love to bring local talent, who may have ventured down a different path to the NRL, back to Central Queensland.
“Tyler is here to firstly play Intrust Super Cup on his way to the NRL. That’s what he wants to do and he sees a pathway here at the CQ Capras.
“I’d love more of those youngsters playing lower grades elsewhere to be eager to return and play at the club with those high ambitions in mind.”
Originally from Rockhampton, he moved to Moranbah “at a pretty young age” with his mining parents, Chris and Tanya.
“I played most of my junior footy for the Moranbah Miners. I came into St Brendan’s (College) from grade eight to 12. Guy was actually one of the teachers when I was there.”
As Szepanowski puts it. The universe works in a funny way.
During his time at the renowned Yeppoon rugby league nursery, the former First XIII captain attracted the interest from the reigning NRL premiers.
“I got a bit of interest from the Melbourne Storm when I was in grade 11 and as a 16-year-old I did camps with them,” Szepanowski said.
“I actually got injured in my final year of school and had surgery on my ankle and only got back just in time for Confro (Confraternity Shield).
“I still had a bit of interest from Melbourne and after school I did the under-20s pre-season with them on the Sunny Coast.
“Melbourne sort of said to me it’s the last year of NYC and they could only see me playing a few games as I was only 17. So I came back and played Mal Meninga Cup (under-18s) for the Capras.
“During Mal Meninga Cup I got signed by the Titans and moved down to the Gold Coast.”
Fast-forward to now, Szepanowski said he was excited by the opportunity to play under Williams and make his long-awaited Queensland Cup debut.
“It’s exciting. I’m at that age now where if I want to progress I’ve got to be testing myself at Q Cup level,” said Szepanowski, whose surname is of Prussian heritage.
“Training has been really good, the boys are looking good and everybody is working hard.
“Personally, my goals are to test myself at Q Cup level every week and improve week in week out. With the team, if we all have that mentality hopefully we will get the results we are looking for.”
Williams said Szepanowski would get his first chance to nail down a round one starting spot in the Capras’ first trial game against the Cutters in Mackay on February 20.
“Tyler’s a young bloke who I feel can have a positive influence on the playing group,” the young head coach and club great said.
“He’s only young, but he has an old head on his shoulders and has a real determination and discipline about the way he approaches the sport.”
The oldest of four siblings, Szepanowski said his hard work ethic came from his parents, Chris and Tanya.
“Dad’s in the mines and mum works for a contracting company in the mines – they’re pretty hard-working people,” he said.
“Two of my brothers are out at Moranbah still with my mum and dad and my sister is at TCC in her final year.
“That’s also one of the positives moving back, mum and dad could only get down once or twice to watch me play when I was down on the Gold Coast. So hopefully they can see me play a bit more this year.”
Temporarily living with his nan and pop in Rockhampton, Szepanowski is looking forward to reuniting with his girlfriend, Kelsie, and their sausage dog, Benji, when they move up from the Gold Coast.
As for work away from footy?
“I’m a disability support worker. I’ve been doing that ever since I finished school. It’s a rewarding job. I’m studying teaching too,” he said.
“I’m working for Access Recreation. I used to work for them when I first lived here after school and I was lucky enough they put me back on.”
Once again, Szepanowski’s universe turning full circle after the flip of a coin.