The coolness under pressure of rugby league goal-kicking legend Daryl Halligan has rubbed off on his daughter Bronte as she’s carved out a world-class water polo career.
More than two decades after Daryl rose to fame nailing goals from the sideline, Bronte is slamming home goals in the pool and now eyeing her second Olympic campaign.
The 27-year-old is in Doha for the World Aquatics Championships with the Stingers, the Australian women’s water polo team, which will face Hungary in its third match of the world titles on Thursday night (AEDT).
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“He likes to talk about mental tools in his kicking game that he used and that I could use in my water polo game,” Bronte told Wide World of Sports.
“He talks about certain ways that he set up to kick and how he’d move back off the tee and the amount of steps he’d take and preparing mentally for that.
“There are different tools you can rely on, such as your breath work and what’s constant in the field of play at the time, which help me and my penalties. I look at certain things around the goal and I use my breath and I talk to myself mentally and bring myself back to the present.
“He’s pretty good at giving me advice to keep me grounded and keep me calm and collected in the present moment.”
The Halligan family is steeped in sporting success. While Daryl is a Bulldogs, Bears and Kiwis great, and Bronte a water polo star, the eldest of the children, Devon, is a Surf Life Saving world champion.
Growing up in Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches, Bronte was an all-round sports nut. She swam, ran, surfed, did Surf Live Saving, and played netball, basketball, tennis and football.
She made her Stingers debut in 2014 and was a member of the side that finished fifth at Tokyo 2020.
”I’m lucky I didn’t play rugby league because I could have got caught up in the whole daughter thing,” Bronte said.
“It’s quite nice that I play a different sport … I think I’ve branded myself and run with that.”
Out of the pool, Bronte is a strategy lead at Cerebral Palsy Australia. She studied psychology and disability studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (ULCA).
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When asked what she wanted to achieve in water polo, she began to answer, before pausing and going again.
“Do you know what? I keep rummaging with this and I flip back and forth,” the Stingers sharpshooter said.
“Medals and team success — that’s what I want. I want my team to be successful. I want us to compete day in and day out as the Stingers. If that means we’re winning medals, then great. If that means we’re in a phase where we’re just grinding and working hard, then fantastic.”
The Stingers have made a scintillating start to the World Championships, thrashing Singapore 32-1 and overcoming New Zealand 13-6.
“I’m not in an individual sport; I’m in a team sport,” Bronte added.
“That’s my most important thing — that I see my entire team around me, myself included, flourish together.”