It was always exhausting to watch. Corey Horsburgh’s warm-up on the sideline during Raiders games was always a distraction from the on-field play, such was the intensity. He ran on from the bench in 20 of his 22 games in his debut season in the NRL last year and by the time he rocketed onto the field, he was ready to explode.
With his fiery red hair, Corey almost epitomises the angry Viking.
“I’ve copped that since I was young so I kind of played myself into that,” Corey says, responding to the myth of angry red-heads.
“I like a laugh. I’m not angry off the field. I just try to get fired up on the field because I just love playing my footy like that.”
Corey maintains the rage from the bench to warm-up to coach Ricky Stuart’s final instructions to the field. Inevitably, he is straight into the thick of things.
“I love it when it’s physical, when both teams are going at it,” says Corey. “You can see there’s a lot of emotion out there. I just love footy in general.”
This attitude has made Corey a cult hero at GIO Stadium with the crowd lifting with his every involvement. ”I think it’s my red hair,” he says with a laugh.
Rugby league was just one of his sporting passions as a kid growing in Caboolture north of Brisbane. He was an outstanding junior Aussie Rules and rugby union player before deciding at 16 years that league would be his focus.
His rugby league journey took him to Townsville as a 17-year-old before he was given an opportunity with the Raiders.
Now as a 22-year-old preparing for his third season with the Raiders, Corey says he has matured as a footballer thanks largely to guidance of his coach. “He tells me to go out there and don’t be stupid. When I first started playing I gave away a few stupid penalties, but I feel as though I have got that out of my game. So he’s okay as long as I’m using my aggression in the right way.”
Corey has plenty of family support in his corner as well, despite the 14-hour journey to Canberra to see him play.
Corey’s mother, Sandra, gets to games when she can and his father Rick, a prison guard, is there for almost all games when the Raiders play in Canberra. “Dad kicks himself if he misses a game. I tell him to stop spending so much money, but that’s just how he is. He loves it.”
In Canberra, Corey lives with his older sister Amy, who arguably has one of the toughest roles in Corey’s life: “She helps me. She cooks dinner; I’m a terrible cook.”
And this season, Corey’s life is about to get busier as he is set to begin with the Raiders starting line-up while John Bateman recovers from shoulder surgery.
“Hopefully I can start the year off strongly, and you never know what will happen from there.”
Raiders fans have a fair idea. Many can’t get enough of the six-foot-two kid from Caboolture who puts his body on the line every time he runs onto the field.