For Matt King, the beers he poured behind the bar at the Norths Devils were integral to one of the most interesting careers in rugby league’s modern history.
It was early in 2003 when King, then 22, was returning to the sport he had walked away from, unsure of his direction in life.
He found his way from a pre-season trial at the Cronulla Sharks to the Norths Devils, where a young Cooper Cronk was playing in between his work as a plumbing apprentice.
King also needed work and Norths helped with a job behind the bar in the Devils Leagues Club, where King’s distinctive hairstyle quickly caught the eye.
That hairstyle was also easy to spot on the field, where King excelled for the Devils before the Melbourne Storm enticed him from Bishop Park under the then feeder arrangement between the clubs.
He made his NRL debut in round 24, 2003, before going on to play 10 Tests for Australia and nine State of Origin matches during a career that included an NRL grand final win.
“I’m still very fond of my time at the Devils because it helped me immensely in many ways,” King said.
“I needed a job to help my income away from footy and I was lucky enough to get work behind the bar in the Leagues Club. I had grown up with my father working in pubs so I knew how to pour a beer and that helped me get work.
“Coops (Cronk) was working for (1998 premiership captain and life member) Kevvie Carmichael in his plumbing business so that helped him a lot as well.
“That gave us the income to help us away from footy and it played a part in our futures.”
King would make his debut for the Devils in round 1, 2003 in Rockhampton, playing on the wing outside Cronk in the centres.
King said some of his employers had reached out to him during his career, taking great pride in his achievements.
“That was always touching to me because those employers had helped me at different times and I was really grateful for that,” King said.
“It meant a lot to me that they were proud of things I had done.”
The Devils have been fortunate to find employment for some players this season but they were still seeking some opportunities.
“We’re very grateful for our sponsors and businesses that have helped our players,” Norths CEO Troy Rovelli said.
“We’re proud of our players and the way that they take on their work and the way that they enjoy working with good employers.
“We have some players who are new to the club who are seeking employment now. They’re good young men and we’re happy to meet with any local businesses who may have work available. We would be delighted to place any player in the right job.”
If you are interested in an employment arrangement with the Norths Devils, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org