ACU PhD candidate joins Brisbane Broncos

The Brisbane Broncos NRL club are leaders when it comes to the science of rugby league and ACU PhD candidate Tom Fary will help keep them at the forefront.

Tom has joined the Broncos – one of the most successful Australian rugby league clubs – under a three-year PhD project to research the best ways to enhance important physical characteristics for rugby league players.

He is embedded full-time at the Broncos headquarters at the Clive Berghofer Centre in Queensland.

Tom is one of the latest industry-embedded PhDs at ACU’s Sports Performance, Recovery, Injury and New Technologies (SPRINT) research centre which hosts internationally recognised sports scientists working towards advancing knowledge in the areas of human performance, recovery, and injury. 

SPRINT’S embedded PhD program has seen researchers front and centre at leading sporting organisations like the Broncos.

Industry-embedded PhDs, particularly in professional sport, offer real-world relevance and direct experience in the field of interest, networking and professional development opportunities outside of the usual on-campus experience.

Head of Performance at the Brisbane Broncos David Ballard said developing relationships between sporting organisations and universities was vital to ensuring research addresses questions that directly inform practice.

“The ACU SPRINT research group have an excellent reputation and we are pleased we can partner with them,” he said.

“ACU’s industry-embedded placement appealed to the Broncos as it allows our sport science department to measure our program in a more in-depth, scientific way than normally possible. Not only will it allow us to help inform of best-practice through a scientific lens, it also helps develop Tom in the practical setting of elite sport.

“Embedded PhD’s allow students to develop a well-rounded skillset and appreciate how research works within a university – to develop knowledge; and in an applied setting – to improve the training process.”

The Broncos performance staff reached out to SPRINT early in 2023 to draw on the skills of ACU sport science experts to improve their training practices.

As a result, SPRINT researchers Associate Professors Rich Johnston and Grant Duthie were awarded $45,000 in scholarship funding from the Brisbane Broncos to support the three-year PhD project which includes external supervision support from NRL strength and conditioning coach Dr Michael Speranza.

Tom’s research will assess how to better monitor physical performance responses to training stimuli over multiple NRL seasons. He will also examine the impact the training schedule and NRL competition has on changes in body composition, muscular strength and power, and aerobic fitness.

It will inform understanding of training stimulus and load to physically improve rugby league players in different phases of the NRL season and add to the growing body of knowledge on the impact training and playing schedules have on player wellbeing.

Tom said the Brisbane Broncos and ACU PhD program appealed to him because it offered a great opportunity to enhance his research skills while gaining practical experience.

“Through the research team at ACU and the performance staff at the Broncos, I have been able to surround myself with experienced and knowledgeable practitioners,” he said.

“This environment will undoubtedly aid in the development of my skills as a researcher and sports scientist. I look forward to the next three years and hope to contribute and add benefit to the Broncos and wider sports science field through my research.”

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs