“I don’t really like talking about this”: Mario Fenech reveals how racist abuse led to his rugby league career
Former NSW player Mario Fenech came to Australia from Malta when he was just 10 months old.
The former South Sydney captain started playing for the Botany Rams junior team at just five years of age.
The decision would ultimately lead to a successful rugby league career – debuting for the Rabbitohs in 1981 and playing for them until his controversial departure in 1990.
He then moved to the North Sydney Bears where he stayed until 1994 and had his final season with the South Qld Crushers.
In 1988 he was named captain of the Prime Minister’s XIII – a team that included greats such as Mal Meninga, Greg Alexander, Mark Geyer, Gavin Miller, David Gillespie and Glen Lazarus.
However, it wasn’t a love of the game that led him to strapping on the boots.
Fenech has revealed to Macquarie Sport Radio’s Clinton Maynard, it was the racial slurs and bullying he copped as a child that forced him into the game.
“I don’t really like talking about this,” he said, “but I was crying to my father and I was really upset… my dad said at five-years-old ‘You better learn to play rugby league’.”
Fenech said he didn’t even know what rugby league was.
However, the racist abuse didn’t stop.
“If I had a dollar for every time I got called a wog, I’d be a multi-millionaire,” Fenech said.
He told Clinton Maynard it ended up helping him get fired up.
In a feature interview on Full-Time, he speaks about his career, including the physical impact of being a professional athlete in a contact sport.
Click PLAY below to listen to the full interview