Written by Stuart McLennan
As a rugby league fan if you haven’t heard of Netherlands international centre Joran Schoenmaker then it’s about time you did.
The unofficial 2020 ‘Golden Boot’ winner, (awarded unofficially by our Chasing Kangaroos Podcast) and winner of the European Rugby League 2020 ‘Try of the Year’, Schoenmaker has scored a remarkable 14 tries in 7 international matches after making his debut in 2018 against Germany, fittingly scoring a double in his first appearance.
The 22 year old marketing student from the city of Zwolle in the north east of the Netherlands, possesses plenty of pace and power combined with a healthy dose of modesty, preferring to credit the team for his try scoring feats.
“It's all because of the team around me,” Schoenmaker insisted when Chasing Roos suggested he was a try scoring freak.
“Yes I might be the one scoring them but everyone else has put an immense effort before that. Not sure if it's particularly in my game but I give it my all to score every match.”
After taking up rugby union four and half years ago, Schoenmaker found rugby league after a short while when looking to continue with a contact sport at the end of the season.
“The union season ends in April and that's when the league season starts. Being a young guy I didn't want to take a rest and I started playing rugby league. I fell in love with the sport right after. Rugby league in the Netherlands is such a small community which makes the sport so much more attractive. In the first year I played league I got selected for the Dutch squad and got to represent my country.
“Despite how small of a sport it is, playing for the Netherlands still is one of the greatest honours you can have. Especially scoring on my debut, it is a special moment in my life.”
Schoenmaker, who represents the Zwolle Wolves in the Netherlands domestic league, emerged as a star of the European D Championships in Bodrum, Turkey in October this year. The Orange Lions claimed the title with a 36-10 win over the Czech Republic, with Schoenmaker grabbing a hat trick including a sensational solo effort in the 22nd minute. The win means the Netherlands will be promoted to the European B group and the men in Orange are still alive in the quest to qualify for the 2025 World Cup.
“It's already great that the Netherlands went to Pool B which is the biggest step the Netherlands has ever made and also a chance to qualify for the World Cup. That's absolutely amazing. We've got a long way to go but we'll give it our all to get qualified for the World Cup. We've already written history. How much more can we do?”
And if you had any doubts that Joran is not embedded in rugby league culture after three years in the game?
As we finished the interview his parting words, perhaps a little tongue in cheek, were “Oh yeah, by the way could you mention somewhere full credit to the boys?”
Yep, he’s a rugby league man!
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