Irish was left with post traumatic stress disorder after his time serving in East Timor.
After 12 years in the military he was discharged in 2009 and left facing a life vastly different to what he had known.
“I’d still be sitting on the lounge today if it wasn’t for these games and my mates up in Townsville telling me to put my name down and have a go,” Irish said on Sunday.
“And now I’m wearing the Australian colours.”
The 2018 Invictus Games are currently being held in Sydney, and as Irish cheered on Australians competing in the cycling over the weekend he came face to face with the man who made the whole thing possible.
Irish was one of three Aussie larrikins who did their best to have Prince Harry sign a pair of skimpy swimwear, but, despite the laughs, for the gentle giant it was also an incredibly emotional moment.
“You fight back the tears sometimes, you’re that excited to be here,” he said.
“I’m very proud.”
It was actually playing against Prince Harry in a water polo match in 2005 that Irish had last participated in sport before starting on his Invictus journey.
Now given back his love of sport he’s got nothing but praise for the Duke of Sussex, who he says is so easy to talk to you can forget exactly who he is.
“He’s just like a normal person, you know he’s royalty but he’s just down to earth,” he said.
“Meeting him again was fantastic.”
Irish will represent Australia at the Invictus Games in athletics, indoor rowing and powerlifting.
“It is not all about winning but it would be great. It is about showing my kids that if you work hard at something you can achieve it,” he previously said.