Swifts hat-trick ace reveals what footy is really all about
LOOK out if Swifts speedster Godfrey Okot gives up the pre-game chips and gets serious.
He might score even more than the hat-trick of tries he produced in the Bluebirds' latest 60-22 A-Grade victory over Norths.
"I've never really taken care of my body,'' Okot said, after his latest scintillating performance.
"When I see a gap, I just try and launch for that line.
"Whatever happens, you get through or you get whacked but you get back up and play. Just the love of the game.''
In his new team environment, Okot is happy to continue sharing in some wonderful club spirit.
In Swifts' first three games, the personality-charged fullback had threatened to unleash a multiple try haul with several breaks and his lethal runs.
He finally did in Saturday night's Rugby League Ipswich match at Keith Sternberg Oval.
Okot was thrilled to join in his team's latest score-fest and bag his first hat-trick since the 2019 season when he was playing with the Redbank Bears.
Before sitting out last season, Okot recalls scoring a hat-trick on four occasions that season. The last was against Brothers.
"I was at Redbank for years and years,'' he said. "In 2020, I was meant to play (for Swifts).''
But with the Bluebirds withdrawing due to COVID concerns, Okot took some time out.
Invited to join the club by coach Wayne Finch and manager Stuart Towler, Okut has this season slotted seamlessly into Swifts' sensational backline.
Okot has steadily improved each week, helping the Bluebirds maintain an unbeaten record and break the 50-point barrier in back-to-back games.
"I love the club,'' he said.
"We are all family-friendly orientated. That's what I love about it.''
In Saturday night's match, Okot scored his team's fourth, sixth and ninth tries.
He again showcased his tremendous pace having become a valuable member of the red-hot Swifts backline also featuring clinical footballers Nemani Valekapa, Ratu Vatuinaruku, Aaron Nemani and Ricki Mato.
"That's probably where most of our tries come from but don't take anything away from our forwards,'' he said. "They set that platform for us and we score.
"At the back, I just try to chime in wherever I can and whenever I can.
"My tries today all came from our half (and captain) Cam (Picker) putting up great kicks and me just putting in that effort at the end.''
Okot is thrilled with the way the Swifts side is gelling.
"Even training, it's just all fun, laughter and that's what footy is all about,'' he said.
"You can't always be serious, just enjoy yourself week-in, week-out and that's what we are doing.''
Okot played soccer for Logan until he was 15 before switching to rugby league at Redbank where he started a new football career.
"I started on the wing for a couple of years,'' he said.
"I had one year at lock so I could get my tackling in order and then I decided to play football.
"Ever since then, I pretty much stayed at fullback.''
However, the Ipswich Diggers fullback conceded he could probably do a bit more to prepare for matches.
"Before games I eat chips just to get the blood going,'' he said, with a massive grin.
But turning 26 in September, Okot said he enjoys every moment playing.
"It's the camaraderie and I just love the contact really,'' he said.
"It's just a good bunch of boys here at Swifts.
"That's all clubs really. Even Redbank, we got a good camaraderie going on over there.
"Presidents always look after you.''
Away from footy, he loves spending time with his family. He works as a removalist during the week.
But on Saturday night, it was Okot on the move.
As they had against Brothers a week earlier, Swifts conceded the first try before deciding to up the tempo.
Within minutes, they were 18-6 ahead, extending that to 30-6 at halftime.
In the second half, Swifts were unstoppable scoring in quick succession as they pounded the Norths defence.
Centre Nemani Valekapa scored another double with Luke Rae, Isi Hafoka, Ratu Vatuinaruku, Totufou Muliaga and Ricki Mato also charging over the line.
Superboot Vatuinaruku converted all 10 tries in another display of exceptional goal kicking.
However, the home side Norths never gave up after captain Ethan Page scored the opening try of the match.
The enthusiastic Tigers worked hard to post additional points of their own in the face of a Swifts onslaught.
Presley Lowe, August Tolova'a and Oskar Moore also contributed for Norths with halfback Lachlan Williamson converting three of the four Tigers tries.
However, apart from the opening 15 minutes, the Tigers were never really in the hunt.
Okot said Swifts had responded well to coach Wayne Finch's instructions despite giving up an early try again.
"Finchie always tells us week-in, week-out we must start well,'' Okot said.
"Two weeks in a row now, we let the opposition score first but he (Finch) always tells us it's a grind the first 20 minutes and that's what it exactly was until we started putting on points.''
The end result is most pleasing.
"The boys are putting in efforts every week,'' the flying fullback said.
But like his wise advice about having fun, Okot offered some more sound information as Swifts strive to keep unbeaten.
"Every week is a new week,'' he said, preparing to play Fassifern next.
"We don't think we are going to walk all over them. They'll come fighting and we've just got to fight harder.''
Norths won an entertaining Reserve Grade match 30-22 before the Swifts A-Graders turned on a try-scoring onslaught.
In the other A-Grade match on Saturday night, the Jets had seven different try scorers in their 40-10 victory over Fassifern at Rosewood.
After a rare touch-up against Swifts a week earlier, Brothers rebounded strongly as expected in Sunday afternoon's game, overrunning Goodna 56-16 at Raceview.
Winger Donalex Vitatama scored a hat-trick.
RLI A-Grade: Swifts 60 (Godfrey Okot 3, Nemani Valekapa 2, Luke Rae, Isi Hafoka, Ratu Vatuinaruku, Totufou Muliga, Ricki Mato tries; Ratu Vatuinaruku 10 goals) def Norths 22 (Ethan Page, Presley Lowe, August Tolova'a, Oskar Moore tries; Lachlan Williamson 3 goals) at Keith Sternberg Oval.
Jets 40 (Dominic Macumboy, Jerome Green, Nicholas Flocas, Shaun Hoerler, John Schwalger, Samuel Langbein, Isaih Walden tries; Izaak Toby 3, Joel Hughes goals) def Fassifern 10 (Bernard Mosby, Sean Harris tries; Bryson O'Sullivan goal) at Rosewood.
Brothers 56 (Donalex Vilatama 3, Taj Hinton 2, Anthony Itiri, Mitch Molloy, Josh Leisemann, Lachlan Vellacott, Josh McCarroll tries; Josh McCarroll 5, Wes Conlon 3 goals) def Goodna 16 (Dylan Timai 2, Soana Foa tries; Tristan Sami 2 goals).
Reserve Grade: Norths def Swifts 30-22, Rosewood def Fassifern 30-16, Brothers def Goodna 30-10.
Volunteers Cup: Swifts def Rosewood 48-10, Brothers def West End 58-0, Redbank def Brisbane Valley 32-22.
Colts Cup: Norths def Redbank 36-22, Fassifern def Rosewood 44-6.
Women: Goodna def Aspley 40-6.