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Jett Elich: 'I can't imagine life without footy'

Sunshine Coast teen Jett Elich is making strides in rugby league and is keen to one day don maroon.

Part of Queensland Rugby League's Emerging Origin squad, Elich said he looked forward to continuing to learn and get better during season 2024 with the view of achieving his childhood dreams of playing in the NRL and for the Queensland Maroons one day.

Elich knows there is a lot of work to do before either happen and he is ready to put the work in. The humble 18-year-old has moved south to join Melbourne Storm.

"I feel like you've got to have goals and you've got to have things to strive towards," Elich, who prides himself on working hard on and off field, said.

Jett Elich playing for the Falcons in 2023. Photo: Josh Woning/QRL
Jett Elich playing for the Falcons in 2023. Photo: Josh Woning/QRL

The second rower, who graduated from Mountain Creek State High in 2022, played soccer as a small child and realised rugby league was the game for him when he changed over aged eight.

"I think for me growing up footy was sort of just that one thing that I loved, it was a bit of an escape from everything for me...  I was never sort of a kid that overly loved school... I was fine with school but footy was a happy place," Elich said.

"I played my juniors at Kawana Dolphins and then transitioned over to the Maroochydore Swans on the Sunshine Coast for the rest of my juniors."

Elich said growing up he was not the most talented footballer, but got an opportunity at Sunshine Coast Falcons "when I grew into my body a bit". 

"I didn't actually start getting into any rep footy... like I never made a schoolboys side or anything like that, but played Cyril Connell at the Falcons and then through to Mal Meninga and Colts last year," Elich said.

Jett Elich. Photo: Josh Woning/QRL
Jett Elich. Photo: Josh Woning/QRL

"Last year I was top age Mal Meninga Cup and then that season finished and then I played the rest of the season in Colts and that was different, a step up for sure.

"The speed and the intensity of the footy was a massive step up from Mal Meninga but I think it put me in good stead for this year... it was good."

Elich said he was still adjusting to life in Melbourne, but was enjoying every second.

"When I realised footy is what I want to do, I took it a lot more serious and I got that opportunity with Melbourne through the affiliation with the Falcons," Elich said.

"It's been eye opening to get in that system and just see the professionalism they have down there.

"It's been a different lifestyle in Melbourne compared to the Sunny Coast... can't complain though... they've looked after me really well and they've set me up really well... it's been good.

"I'm at a point where I get to choose if footy is a part of my life or not. I've done it my whole life. I can't imagine life without footy at this stage.

"Full-time is the goal."

Elich, a Brisbane Broncos fan growing up, looked up to Broncos and Queensland Maroons stars Matt Gillett and Anthony Milford as well as Greg Inglis.


"I loved Matt Gillett... just any back rowers.... I played a bit of No.6 growing up also so Anthony Milford when he was in his prime at the Broncos there, I watched a lot of him and enjoyed watching him," Elich said.

"I think pure idolisation for me was Greg Inglis. He was just the ultimate athlete... so talented."

On a mission to follow in their footsteps, Elich acts like a sponge at Storm and he did the same at the recent Emerging Origin camp.

"In the role I'm in, which is junior academy, we come in and we do it one day a week NRL and all of those NRL boys are really welcoming... really nice fellas," Elich said. 

"I sort of had a relationship with Trent Loiero before... we're both from the Sunny Coast, both went to Mountain Creek and he played last year in the back row and he's got some skills.

"Just watching his training and his work ethic... if I can replicate my game on any of his, it'd be good. He's probably been the most influential for me because NRL is the goal."

Elich, studying criminology at university with a keen interest in youth justice, said he was pumped to be part of Emerging Origin this year so he could soak up everything to be learned about being a Queenslander and hoped to make the Queensland Under 19 side.

"Pretty proud of myself to be honest... it's surreal," Elich said.

"I'm super grateful... it's been a real eye opener for me... hard work gets you places. If I can keep working hard, get these opportunities more often, it would be nice.

"Wearing maroon would be massive for me. I've always been a Queenslander, I've always supported the Maroons. I grew up in Queensland... every year you get on the couch with your family and watch the Origin.

"It's every kid's dream that's playing footy, so for me, it's no different. It's a massive dream of mine.

"Whether it be 19s or Origin down the track, it'd be massive... I'm super grateful (to be in the Emerging Origin squad).

"It'd be massive but right now it's just a goal because there's a lot of good players... they're in the same position as me and I'd love to play and that's something I want to strive towards. But at the end of the day whatever is meant to happen will.

"Grateful for all my opportunities."

QRL pathways and performance head coach Nathan Cross said Elich was "a terrific kid who has improved immensely the past couple of years".

"He has a thirst for knowledge and is big on understanding and executing his role for the team," Cross said.

"This is his first year down in Melbourne playing for the Storm and I expect to see Jett really thrive and play his best footy."

Hero photo: Simon Rathbone/Melbourne Storm

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.