After spending a season on the sidelines in the Rabbitohs’ coaching staff, former State of Origin and Test player Matt King will pull the boots back on to help his South Sydney teammates at this weekend’s Auckland Nines tournament.
After a career that saw him play a total of 220 first grade games (Melbourne Storm, Warrington Wolves and the Rabbitohs), as well as 10 Tests (AUS) and 9 Origins (NSW) between 2003 and 2013, King will play in Souths’ number four jumper this weekend.
Inspired by the Rabbitohs’ 2014 Grand Final win, King, 34, told Rabbitohs.com.au that it was a conversation with Head Coach Michael Maguire that put him on a collision course with a comeback.
“It was a conversation after the Grand Final that Madge and I had and I was telling him how jealous I was with the boys winning the ‘GF’ last year. It sort of just stemmed from there.
“He mentioned the Nines and I had a good think about it, spoke to the boss at home and she was all for it.”
King is the latest in a short but impressive list of former greats making returns in the Nines – Brad Fittler and Steve Menzies the most notable in 2014, while this year’s tournament will see the return of Canberra legend Ken Nagus at the age of 41.
“Those guys had a lot of fun,” said King of the return of last year’s greats.
“I don’t think they placed too much pressure on themselves which I think is the key. From my perspective it’s about having a bit of fun and trying to help the boys play as well as they can.
“I don’t want to place too much pressure on myself – Freddie (Brad Fittler) took that mad intercept and Beaver (Steve Menzies) has fun whatever he does. So I think I’ll try and take that approach; have a bit of fun with the boys, but we’re over there to do a job so hopefully we get a few wins.”
But this weekend’s tournament won’t be the first time that the man with the frizzy hair has returned to the pitch, with the Casino product scratching his itch for some footy with a return to the bush in 2014.
“I went back to the bush last year and played four games,” said King.
“It was actually good for my soul to get back and play some footy where the weight of the world doesn’t seem to be on top of you.
“There were beers in the showers after the game, which is really the reason why I started playing footy – to be with your mates and to have fun.”
To watch the full interview, please press play on the video player.