For myself and my life, there have always been two solid things that have been of the utmost importance to me, family and rugby league.
Maybe it’s because of the deep-rooted memories of spending our countless weekends as a family of six at our local rugby league club Dewsbury Moor. These memories are some of my fondest and prove to me just how intertwined these two pillars are in my life, from the start and still now.
Rugby league through my family gave me so many opportunities in life to succeed and my first big break on my journey came when I was 18. I got the chance to play my trade down under in Sydney at the mighty Rabbitohs, at the time I was a young and hungry player who was happy for the opportunity and was willing to put in the work to get to where I wanted to be.
Fast forward four short years and I was just finishing the 2014 premiership-winning season as a regular first-team player at South Sydney. Regarded as one of the top Props in the game and also starting for my country, it was safe to say I felt at the top of my game, but still, I felt something was missing in my life.
That next year was the year I would come to discover that what I was missing in my life was a little family of my very own. I always dreamt of being a young parent with my kids, and at 23 I felt it was my time with Joanna, who I had met 18 months earlier. We were soon to become engaged and as they say, the rest is history. Within another four years, we were married with three beautiful children, all under 3 years old. After nine unbelievable years of opportunities in Sydney, I had been rewarded with an NRL career I could be proud of and my own little family of five.
I always knew in the back of my mind that at some point in my career I would yearn to get back to where it all began, back to my English roots, taking back with me my beautiful young family and my years of experience in the NRL. I felt the timing was right and decided to put a full stop on my NRL career with the club I loved dearly and gave me so many fond memories, the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
I signed a three year deal with the Wigan Warriors who I felt were a great fit for myself and my family, and of very similar silk to Souths. I was very excited about embarking on this new journey for two very important reasons, they were of course again my family and rugby league. This career move allowed me to share with Joanna and the kids where I had come from and grown-up, which was a massive incentive for myself. To also make a mark in a competition which I had grown up watching and aspiring to be apart of, but had never materialised, was a dream. Yes, I was going to make my Super League debut at 27 years old with my wife and three kids around me, and hopefully, this is just the start of more great new memories of family and rugby league intertwined.