Premier Grade fits like a glove for GPS’ Bas Ward – The Prince of Yoku
By Liam Cook
A GPS’ junior with storied pedigree, Sebastian ‘Bas’ Ward recently made his premier grade debut at flyhalf, reigniting his team’s season in the process.
The humble Ashgrovian’s instant impact stems from years of zealous dedication to his club and playmaking craft.
Now reaping the rewards as a top-grade player in recent weeks, the No.10 has seen his footballing journey come full circle.
“I’d always go down every Saturday to watch the Premier Grade… back in the day I thought they were superstars and being around it now you’re just a regular bloke,” Ward told Rugby News.
Affectionately dubbed ‘the Prince of Yoku’, a moniker that inspires a true sense of embarrassment for the modest 21-year-old, Ward has spent the entirety of his young career entrenched at GPS.
With Wallaby uncle’s Daniel and Anthony Herbert playing a major role at the club, it seemed inevitable that Yoku Road would provide a home away from home.
“I’ve been around GPS for around 16 years now, since under 6s,” he said.
“The uncles have heavily been involved down there and I’ve always lived in Ashgrove, so it was always the first club I was going to.”
The club he was always going to is, a decade and a half later, now the club he’s playing a pivotal role in.
Ward’s enterprising style and poise under pressure has catalysed an impressive form reversal for the Gallopers.
Since his inclusion, GPS have moved to 4-4, after starting the year with one victory and three defeats.
“I don’t know what the difference in form is, maybe just playing with a free mind and enjoying it.”
Steering the ship in his first start at flyhalf against Brothers, as well as guiding GPS within two points of an imposing Bond outfit, Ward displayed his footballing acumen against much vaunted opponents in just a handful of games.
Despite the responsibilities of being a Premier Grade playmaker, Ward was intent on not being overawed by his step up to the top level.
“The most challenging thing for me was to try and play how I always play, to not overthink the occasion and play normally.
“Sometimes in my head I think I’ve got to do more, but going out there with a consistent mindset is important.
“It’s still a game of rugby, the boys are a bit bigger and quicker but it’s still the same thing.”
Fitting in seamlessly has been no accident on Ward’s behalf.
His odyssey to the Premier Grade competition has required perseverance and passion, not to mention a man of the match performance in the 2021 colt’s grand final at Suncorp Stadium.
“What put me down this path was being fortunate to have a pretty good team in colts, although we had a few tough years after school only winning two out 18 and one out of nine.
“A few of us stayed together for that third year and we won a premiership that year which found my love again for footy.”
Balancing his instinctive “eyes-up, off the cuff” approach to the game as a colt with the restrictive nature of topflight rugby has been a journey of its own for the No.10.
Ward is easily identifiable upon a trip down to Yoku Road most afternoons – putting in hours of extra preparation that others might eschew just in case an opportunity should arise, as it did in round six.
“When the opportunity came I thought I took it… it was pretty cool to get a jersey after doing work behind the scenes.”
Playing alongside Chris Kuridrani in that same Gallopers’ jersey is of enormous significance for the playmaker.
Both inclined toward expansive and aggressive football, Ward says having a like-minded inside centre with an abundance of experience is invaluable.
“I’ve always been a runner of the football and look to identify space so I can get wingers some ball.
“He’s got a really level head, supports you if you make an error and always pats you on the back.”
Ward couldn’t have done much more to get some pats on the back of his own, making an evident imprint on GPS’ top team.
Possessing innate creativity and dedication as a playmaker, there’s seemingly no limit to where the No.10 can take his talent.
Make sure not to ask ‘the prince’ what he thinks of himself though, he’ll divert straight to his pure love for the game and those involved at the club he’s fostered since childhood.
“I’ve always loved rugby, Saturday’s always been my favourite time of the week because of the mateship and camaraderie.”