Sunwolves star Ed Quirk's first love was football
Now a star for the Sunwolves, Quirk's happy he found his calling in rugby
He was part of a team that grabbed much of the spotlight in the build-up to the 2016 Super Rugby season.
But once the action began, Ed Quirk and his HITO-Communications Sunwolves teammates struggled, ending the campaign with a 13 losses, one draw and one win - the competition's worst record.
The Japanese outfit, whose home-away-from home is the National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub, also lost two of their three games there - 30-27 against the Vodacom Bulls and 32-31 to the Central Cheetahs - in a sobering debut season in the southern hemisphere's elite club rugby competition.
Their third game at the venue ended in a rather disappointing 17-17 draw with the Stormers.
However, the Sunwolves team for this season is much-changed.
They have a new coach in Filo Tiatia and 18 new players in the 36-man squad, with blindside flanker Ed Quirk now regarded as a senior member of the outfit.
It could all have been so different for the 25-year-old, though.
Speaking to The New Paper on a promotional trip here last week, he revealed that growing up, football was his first love.
The well-built Aussie, who recently got engaged, was exposed to a wide range of sports in Australia, and eventually ended playing rugby for the Brisbane State High School.
Said Quirk: "I grew up playing soccer and, in Australia, there are heaps of opportunities to try different sports.
"Rugby just came about in the later part of my life and I enjoyed it, the physicality of the game and everything.
"I liked the contact and the way it was played."
Quirk started playing professional rugby when he signed for the Queensland Reds in 2010.
He was part of the Reds team that won the revamped Super Rugby competition in 2011, but tragedy struck in 2013 when he suffered a serious knee injury.
Complications during his recovery in 2014 derailed his career further, causing him to end his career with the Reds at the end of 2015, but after a full rehabilitation, the Sunwolves came calling, and Quirk officially started his career with them this year.
Said Quirk: "I had a really bad injury and no good recovery time at all, resulting in very limited options after I left the Reds.
"The Sunwolves had faith in me that I would perform and it is one of the best decisions I've made in my life."
While he was here, Quirk had the chance to explore some of Singapore's delights, particularly its cuisine.
He also walked on the roof of the National Stadium - the first athlete to do so.
He tasted local fare: kaya toast, half-boiled eggs, kopi-o, hokkien mee, satay, char kway teow, otah, goreng pisang and cheng tng.
He enjoyed breakfast the Singapore way; dipping his toast in eggs drowned in soy sauce.
"In Australia, nothing beats some vegemite toast in the morning," he said. "Before I travel, I usually pack some undies and two jars of vegemite into my luggage.
"Toast is a staple for me, two to three pieces every morning with coffee, but this kaya toast and eggs is really good as well."
Quirk learnt Singlish with the help of Singapore's motor-racing queen, Claire Jedrek, and lost a physical test against Singapore international Zulfahmi Arifin.
He also indulged in some rugby when he conducted a coaching clinic for children.
This was the Aussie's first visit to Singapore since a Sunwolves outing here on May 14.
Standing at 1.91m, Quirk admitted the Sunwolves' first season in Super Rugby was tough.
"We didn't do very well, had a couple of bad losses. We had a handful of two-point losses as well," he said.
"People always say our best games are played in Japan, but I think Singapore's our spot.
"Singapore just might be our lucky ground, we didn't lose as badly here as elsewhere."
For any Aussie rugby union player, the ultimate target is to play for the Wallabies.
Quirk, though, is not looking that far ahead.
"It could be something to look forward to in the future, I don't know yet, but not now, I'm really happy with the Sunwolves.
"At the moment, I'm focusing on Japan, we're talking about the top league and I've been given great opportunities.
"I'm not planning on throwing this away."
10 questions with Ed Quirk
1. Favourite Singaporean dish?
ED QUIRK: Hokkien mee.
2. Favourite Victoria's Secret model?
3. Favourite musician/band?
4. Your ideal rap name?
Jaffa, red on the inside, black on the outside.
5. Favourite Premier League team?
Manchester United, I was there from the beginning, I'm not a bandwagon-jumper.
6. Ideal EPL team to play for?
Manchester United, still.
7. Animals as food, or as friends?
Food definitely, I love steaks and I love meat.
8. Ideal last meal?
A big steak from a Brisbane steak place.
9. You kept talking about your Budgy Smugglers (an Australian swimwear brand), so what's the first thing that comes to mind when we say underwear?
G-string, that's the first thing that comes to mind.
10. Favourite place to visit?
Got to say Singapore, right?
- SWETHA SUNDARARAJAN