Warriors Orange Peeler
138. SONNY FAI
"I'm interested in project and construction management and I've committed some time and done some internships - one with Meriton, which is one of the Tigers' sponsor's companies ... I'm excited about what the future holds, but I'm also excited about playing rugby league.
"That's something I have done for fun since I was 15 years old and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon."
Such is his love for learning, Packer is enrolled in a Master of Legal Studies (Corporate and Commercial) at the University of Auckland.
Royal was offered a captain-coaching job with Auckland club side Papakura for next year, but had long since decided he was returning to Newcastle. His youngest son, Matarae, has suffered from Burkitt's lymphoma, a form of cancer, and he said that unsettled his wife, Kylie, who headed back to Australia in April to resume her former job as an accounts manager at an electrical company.
Royal is awaiting confirmation that he can return to the mines, and he's ready to go. ''It has worked out well,'' he said, in a final reflection on his career. ''I'm thankful for my time at the Warriors.
“There’s been some very dominant teams… the Ashton Wombats have been very strong then you’ve got Austar, you’ve got Wambo Wolves who have been strong over the years, and Ravensworth Rhinos have also been a strong team.”
And as Matt says there’s certainly plenty of talent on the paddock.
“The ex NRL talent is quite hefty throughout the competition and it actually becomes quite competitive once the whistle blows, you’ve got players like Jesse Royal, Liam Foran, Jack Afamasaga who played for the Storm, Eels and the Sharks, Terrance Seu Seu, Adam Clydsdale and Reegan Tanner just to name a few,” he says.
“When you don’t know what to do in life, even if you can’t talk to your mate, but they know what you’re going through, it was cool to have my close mates like Dylan and Thomas there. Doing something physical and working to keep yourself busy can help with that process. I wouldn’t be in the position I am, now with how much I love working if it wasn’t for them, doing scaffolding with Thomas was something I really enjoyed.”