Rabbitohs forward Zane Musgrove told our Members last week about his rugby league journey from New Zealand to Australia.
I was about 15 going onto 16 years old when I moved over here. I was playing club footy, just normal local footy in Auckland in New Zealand. My coach at the time knew someone over here - Mark Hughes, who was the recruitment Manager at the time at Souths. He hooked me up with an SG Ball trial and so I came over and trialled for the weekend. It was a Saturday trial then I got on a flight the next day and went back to New Zealand. They said they would call me back if I had made the cut. So I was back home and waiting for the call but didn’t think I had made the team. Then they called me back and that’s how I ended up here.
It was a big thing for me. At the time I wanted to get into the Warriors but there was no real opportunity there for me. It was hard to get into the Warriors because they were picking the best in our age group, better players than me at the time. But to get the opportunity over here and see what my coach had done for me, I knew this was my chance and to take it with both hands and that’s what I did. I was really happy and excited to come over.
It was hard moving to Australia. I felt a bit alone at times. I was pretty home sick because I was away from mum, dad and my friends and it was new surroundings for me. I was an only child and my parents thought about coming over but they chose to move to Perth and are still living there now.
I went to Westfield Sports for about four weeks. I didn’t really like it over here, the schooling, it was way different to back home. I had to make new friends and it was really different for me. I didn’t really like it so I left. I wasn’t happy at school. Souths then helped me get into some labouring work.
I had a few loose screws when I came over. There was a point there when I nearly got sent home in my first year in SG Ball but the Club stuck by me and believed in me.
I wasn’t rocking up to training and I don’t know why, and sometimes I wasn’t rocking up to work because I was just lazy. There was a point in time when I told myself I needed to knuckle down. I believed in myself that I could go all the way to make first grade. I know there are heaps of other players out there that would want to be in my shoes and I didn’t want to waste this opportunity. I wanted to play first grade at this Club. My mum used to say to me, “You don’t want to be another nine to fiver” so I just took the opportunity.
I stayed with my Aunty out west and caught the train in every day for training and back. I was doing that for the whole SG Ball season but then I started to get sick of it. It was pretty hard until I started to make friends here but they all lived out in the Eastern Suburbs so I decided to move closer out these ways with a house parent. There were other boys there, about five or six of us, including some Roosters boys as well. I had more friends and things to do compared to out west.
The SG Ball season was only 10 weeks and the next goal was to have a crack at under 20s. I started training for the 20s a few times a week and then they called me up to the squad. I finally made my NYC debut and then that’s how I kind of made my way up and got a first grade contract and now I’m signed here until 2020.
I debuted in round one last year and it was a dream come true. I was so happy at the time because I knew I put in all the hard work and I felt like I deserved it. I told myself I made it. My mum came over from Perth to watch me but dad couldn’t make it because he couldn’t get out of work but it was a dream come true for me. Especially at this Club where I wanted to make my debut and the players that are here like Greg Inglis, Sam Burgess, John Sutton, George Burgess, Tom Burgess, Adam Reynolds, to make my debut with them, it was good.
I remember when Madge told me I was going to make my debut. He told me I was coming off the bench and that it was time, ready to make my debut and I was jumping for joy and had a big smile on my face. I was lost for words and I will never forget that moment.
I remember the warm up I was nervous. I thought this is it, I looked over and saw Dylan Napa and Aiden Guerra and I was that nervous but when I got onto the field and took my first carry I was sweet after that and it was then like a normal game for me.
The next day I had scans and found out my wrist was broken and I had to go into surgery. I was gutted. It was the worst feeling. All the work I had done in the preseason and making my debut, I was looking forward to having a great first season and getting some first grade footy under my belt. I was just devastated but I always had that determination that I would come back from it.
I was out for five months then first round back I played cup then the next week I was straight back up into grade. I always knew I would come back, I just knew it would take a bit of time. It was a long rehab. I got away from footy as well. I was out for a long period and you don’t want to be sitting around here in Sydney doing nothing so I may as well see my family so that’s what I did. The Club gave me two weeks off and I went back home to New Zealand and saw my family and sort of refreshed a bit and then came back into training with a good mind set.
Mentally I was fine, I accepted it and moved on and always knew I would come back from it. I just knew it was going to be a long process.
All the hard work I did in rehab paid off. Madge called me up and I couldn’t believe it, I was in grade again and it felt really good. It wasn’t a great season but preseason was good. I was injured still coming back from my wrist but I trained hard in preseason then Madge called me round one to start.
I’m happy here and I’m comfortable here. When I first came to South Sydney one thing that took me about this Club was how competitive it was here and how everyone wanted to improve and get better and that’s something that I want to do in my game. I just have to get more game time under my belt and focus on playing consistent footy week in and week out because this is my first proper season in first grade playing week to week footy so I’m just getting used to bashing my body every week.
I want to improve every day when I come to training. I love South Sydney. I always wanted to be a one-club man, especially at this Club where there is good coaching staff and good people here. I’ve got good friends here, lifetime friends you could say. South Sydney means a lot to me. They have done a lot for me and stuck by me through the tough times.