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HOW CLOSE HE CAME TO AFL

A lot has already been said and written about Kalyn’s time at the Cowboys and it’s not the right time to go deep into that here. I want to talk about Kalyn as a person, not the footy player, and suffice to say the Cowboys wasn’t the right place for his development as a person.

 

When you lose a son, as Adine and I did, as parents you will do everything to ensure your remaining children are in a positive environment.

 

It’s true what has been said about how close Kalyn got to switching to AFL with the Brisbane Lions. It was that close that I’d say had the Cowboys not debuted him in the NRL finals series in 2016, he’d be running around for the Lions now.

 

We didn’t want to make any decisions with Kalyn until he got the right manager and that’s not a simple process. But we eventually found someone in Wayde Rushton, who Kalyn as an individual and ourselves as a family were happy with.

 

After Kalyn decided to go to Newcastle he still had another year left on his contract at the Cowboys and they weren’t going to let him go early, so he had to see that time out.

 

 

We felt from what we’d seen of the Knights system that it was going to be perfect for Kalyn because it was going to allow him to express himself and show who he was, not just as a footy player but as a person.

 

He has come out of his shell since being down here. He understands who he is and has become comfortable within himself.

 

He’s gone from being a teenager to a young man and we’re finding out who he is as an adult now. He got a bumblebee tattoo on his ankle as a way of representing Kacey. The bumblebee toy has a history of being popular with kids in New Zealand.

 

I believe he could have done that in any one of a number of sports. League, obviously, union, AFL, even soccer. And he won the under-13 national championship in golf in New Zealand. That was a huge achievement by him.

 

When we went back to live in New Zealand, it was as an emotional reaction to Kacey’s death. After five years there, when Adine fell pregnant with Kayley we planned to return to Australia after the birth, but then after the stroke we had to wait until she was well again.

 

It wasn’t going to be a problem for me to get work and with Kalyn now in his teens we wanted to put him in a position where he had his best chance to be successful in life.

 

I believe he could have done that in any one of a number of sports. League, obviously, union, AFL, even soccer. And he won the under-13 national championship in golf in New Zealand. That was a huge achievement by him.

 

But league is his game and we’ve seen what he’s done with it, with so much more to come if he keeps going the way he’s going.

 

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Teaching me the ropes

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WHAT DEFINES HIM IS ATTITUDE

Humility. That’s one of the traits in Kalyn that we love and which we believe is among the most important.

 

He knows he’s got this amazing ability to do things on a footy field, but he doesn’t get carried away with that. We don’t believe his skill with the footy defines him as person. What defines him is his attitude. His good values.

 

We put in the hard work with him as a family from day one, from when he first got a scholarship contract with the Brisbane Broncos.

 

We realised it was a world where, if he developed as a player as he looked like developing, he was going to have to deal with things like the media and fans. He needed to be educated on how to present himself and accept those responsibilities and we saw it as our job to do that.

 

We brought him up in such a way as to show him that his being an athlete wasn’t the most important thing to us. His being a good person was most important. There’s now this image of him that’s been created within the rugby league fraternity, which I think is pretty real.

 

He understands the media’s role. He always had good relationships with and was appreciative of other kids growing up. He learned it was important to respect people, so engaging with fans is natural to him. It’s not a chore.

 

We brought him up in such a way as to show him that his being an athlete wasn’t the most important thing to us. His being a good person was most important. There’s now this image of him that’s been created within the rugby league fraternity, which I think is pretty real.

 

He came through the system differently to most other players, where he didn’t have that manager influence until later on, and he’s able to speak for himself with his words off the field as well as his actions on it. He is responsible for what he says and does and is happy that way.

 

 

 

IT’S WHAT HE DESERVES

In many ways, I’ve learnt how to be a father through my son. What my son does on the footy field, and what the other good young players of his generation do, is natural to them and that’s how they talk about it. It’s who they are and I think people appreciate how someone like Kalyn communicates.

 

I’m a big advocate of the belief that if you get it right off the field, everything will happen on the field. It’s not hard, it’s a simple formula.

 

Kalyn understands that being a good person first is key and that if you’ve got the ability to be successful in your chosen field on top of that, it’s something worth aspiring to.

 

We’re proud of what Kalyn does in footy, but we’re prouder of him as a person.

 

Last year, when Kalyn made his Origin debut, he came on in an unfamiliar position in the middle of the field and had a great game. I was confident he would because I’d spoken to him in the lead-up and he was excited about the game ahead and feeling comfortable about his role.

 

When he’s like that I know he’s in a good space and, when I spoke to him on the weekend just gone, I knew he was in the same frame of mind for the game. He’s like a kid in a candy store when he’s confident and it’s a pretty cool thing to watch when he gets out there.

 

I could hear the excitement in his voice and when he’s like that I can’t wait to watch him. I’ll contact him again just to wish him the best ahead of the game.

 

He appreciates where he’s at with his footy and how good it is to be a part of the big occasion. He doesn’t take it for granted. He just wants to enjoy it and do his part for the team.

 

Kalyn’s only 21 and has this great future ahead of him. Everyone close to him knows it’s what he truly deserves.

 


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