Like Benny Blackall and Ollie Horne from Old Collegians, Brad Killick too elected to take himself off to the United Kingdom during the 2019/ 2020 season to further his senior rugby experience, as well as see his girlfriend and close family in the UK. Landing at Heathrow Airport during the first week in December 2019 Brad spent the first few weeks living with his girlfriends parents whilst establishing himself with accommodation, bank account and the government legislative necessities to live and work in the UK. Being a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Australia, most of this process was relatively easy with the exception of securing a National Insurance, which in the end took nearly 5 weeks to obtain.
Brad had originally been invited to play for Woodford Green Rugby Club in North East London but on arrival in Southend, and having realised the commute to Woodford, he approached Southend RUFC who were more than welcoming and keen to have him onboard. Southend RUFC, a tier 4 club playing in London Division One invited Brad to his first training session where he was introduced to the 'Club Dignitaries', as well as the First Team Coaching staff and all of the First and Second Team Playing Squad.
Brad's first game was the Saturday prior to Christmas where he was selected on the bench for the second team against local rivals Brentwood RUFC - 20 minutes into the game he was drafted into tighthead position and having been on the field for no more than a couple of minutes called for a short ball from the scrum half off the base of a ruck on the Brentwood line, allowing him to crash over for his first try in English Rugby and an immediate elevation to 'hero' status amongst his team mates and beyond.
As a consequence of byes and game cancellations due to bad weather, Brad only managed to play in 8 games before the season came to a grinding halt in early March 2020 due to the COVID19 pandemic but he still managed to 'bag' 4 tries in that time.
Brad says his experience at Southend RUFC was invaluable, for the rugby boffins reading this, one of Brads team mates was Joel Armitage, who is the younger brother of full ex England and ex Toulon players Stefan and Delon Armitage, who also attended many training sessions.
Brad also advised he learnt a great deal from other senior players, being the youngest in the squad by a good few years was really looked after both on and off the pitch by his peers. He recalls his highlight being his last game with Southend RUFC, where he played a major part in seeing the second team win the Essex County Cup Semi-Final against a team two divisions higher. The game was an evening kick off under floodlights, with what seemed like the majority of the Southend population in attendance to cheer them on. Alas the season was cut short before the final was played but nevertheless a great end to his time with Southend RUFC.
The trials and tribulations of COVID19 hit hard, which meant Brad who is immunocompromised, confined himself to his apartment, with the exception of essential trips to the supermarket for supplies. Brad says he passed his time reading, studying, playing on his playstation against friends back in Australia. He also turned his hand to cooking and proclaims to conjure up a fantastic chicken and pasta dish.
As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened in the UK, Brad's original return flight to Australia in April was cancelled, so rather than expose himself to international travel at the height of the pandemic Brad elected to stay in the UK under lockdown and rebooked his flights for June 2020. This flight was also cancelled and Brad made the very tough decision to fly back to Australia on one of the Qantas operated repatriation flights at the end of May.
So after 23 hours (via Perth) on the same plane Brad landed in Melbourne on the evening of the 30th May 2020 to commence his two weeks enforced quarantine. Surprisingly after various checks at the airport Brad was driven to the Crown Promenade no less, which would become his home until the 13th June 2020, with the only visitors allowed being government health officials and caterers. Pleased to report that Brad survived the solitary confinement though both mentally and COVIDly with two mandatory tests both resulting in negative results whilst in Melbourne.
After a 9 hour drive with his father Chris Killick back to Adelaide, both Chris and Brad had to self isolate at home in Adelaide. Brad is raring to go and bring his learnings from his brief stint in England back to Old Collegians. Without doubt a character building few months away from Australia but Brad is stronger, wiser and more motivated than ever before for the 2020 Season and beyond.