Garlando Finds Home in Florida
It’s a long way from the north Queensland town of Ingham in Australia to Fort Myers in Florida, but it’s not that big of a deal for globetrotting rugby league player Peter Garlando.
What took him there was the chance to play for USA Rugby League’s newest franchise, the Southwest Florida Copperheads.
The young allrounder, who can play multiple positions, says the decision to move from Australia’s Sunshine State to the American equivalent was a no-brainer.
“I had the opportunity two years ago to play for the (NOVA) Eagles, but let it slip, but saw one day that a new team in Florida was on the lookout for new players,” says Garlando.
“I got in contact with the owner Curtis Goddard and went through some minor details and accepted the chance to play for the new team.
“I chose to play for the Copperheads due to the fact we had a bunch of guys that have never played Rugby League.
“It was a great challenge for myself as I plan to head into coaching one day after coming back from a serious neck injury. Plus, who wouldn’t like to be in Florida during the summer.”
As is the case in America, it’s common for kids in Australia to play several sports at the same time and Garlando was no exception.
He started playing league at a young age for his local club the Herbert River Crushers, while also playing rugby union.
Later, when he was 20 years old, he went to England to play for the Hammersmith Hoists and Eastern Rhinos. Both teams compete in the South Premier Division of the Rugby League Conference.
He also played for the reserve grade London Broncos, while at the same time competing at various nines and rugby 7s tournaments around Europe.
As the USARL domestic season reaches the midway point, Garlando says it didn’t take him long to figure out what it would be like week in and week out.
“My early impressions of Rugby League in the USA is that it’s going to be tough.
“While the game might be slower, you have guys much bigger than you looking to hit you as hard as they can. The future is bright for Rugby League in the US and looking forward to playing here.”
The Queenslander says he’s not treating his time with the Copperheads as a vacation, far from it.
He acknowledges that he has definite goals for the club and his teammates.
“My goals while playing for the Copperheads is to put the team in the best position short-term and long-term to compete with the big (SOUTH Conference) teams like Jacksonville and Atlanta and helping the guys dream big and push for national spots which I believe we have.”