IN his prime he tackled some of the world’s great cycling races including the Tour de France.
Now former professional cyclist Nick Gates will be passing through his old territory on a charity ride from Newcastle to the Gold Coast to raise funds for the Currumbin Community Special School.
Former rugby league and union international Matt Rogers and 46-year-old Gates will lead a group of 22 on the journey.
They’ll leave Newcastle this Sunday, September 2 and stopover in Forster that night.
Next Monday, September 3 they’ll head into Taree before progressing to Wingham and Comboyne en-route to Port Macquarie.
“Matt's a good mate of mine and he has a son who has special needs,’’ Gates said.
Knowing Gates’ background in the sport, Rogers asked if he wanted to come on board.
When Gates found out the route, he agreed straight away.
‘"That’s where I used to train,’’ the Taree-born Gates explained.
He began his career with the Manning Valley Cycle Club.
In 1996 he was named the Manning River Times Sportstar of the Year after winning the prestigious Commonwealth Bank Classic – then the most high profile road race on the Australian calendar. The same year he also won the national road championship.
He raced professionally in Europe for more than a decade, competing in all the major tours. He ended his career in the best possible way, winning the Nick Gates Classic in Townsville in 2008.
He is a member of the Greater Taree Sporting Hall of Fame.
These days Gates is based on the Gold Coast, where he owns a seafood restaurant. He admits he will be a bit underdone for the ride.
“I’ll have to start doing a bit of training, I have hardly been on my bike,’’ he said.
“But it’s not a race or anything like that – we’re just raising funds for a great cause.
“There’ll be plenty of backup with us, so I’ll be fine.’’
Rogers is the son of former league great, Steve Rogers. Like his father, he also played for Cronulla. A utility back, he represented Queensland in two State of Origin series, unlike his father, who was in the NSW side for the inaugural State of Origin clash in 1980.
Matt Rogers also played seven tests for Australia and was a member of Australia’s winning World Cup campaign in 2000, where he was the top scorer in the tournament.
He made a switch to rugby union in 2001 to link with the NSW Waratahs, where he played a number of backline positions. He also represented the Wallabies.
Rogers returned to rugby league after signing with the Gold Coast Titans to play in the NRL before retiring in 2010.
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