He retired three years ago after stints with the Parramatta Eels and the Sydney Roosters but after having time to focus on other parts of his life, Eric Grothe Jr. has decided to return to the NRL.
His return will see him play for the Cronulla Sharks, with the club re-signing him for one season.
For Grothe, he is excited to once again be a part of the NRL.
“Very exciting time for me and it’s good to be a part of this club,” said Grothe.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things.”
At 33, Grothe is eager, hungry and willing to get stuck in and admits that at the time of his retirement, the toll of 12 straight years in the NRL left him jaded and tired.
“Yeah, I retired relatively early and I’d only played 140 odd games and at the time, I’d done it for 12 years in a row and I was pretty jaded,” said Grothe.
“I was keen to get away and do some other things and in doing that, after three seasons and starting to watch some of the older blokes lasting longer in the game and the smarts of training, I just thought I feel fresh.”
“I started training, felt good and decided to give it another crack. I’m very lucky and thankful for the opportunity to be here.”
Like any player returning to the NRL, fitness is the key and for Grothe, whilst he may not like the training required at times, he knows what has to be done to get back to peak fitness.
“Yeah, for the last two and a half months, I’ve been trying to train every day,” said Grothe.
“With age comes wisdom and you know how to approach things now and I’m lucky enough to be young in the body in terms of football.”
Travel is no issue for Grothe, who leaves in the Cronulla area and he admits that the closeness of the Sharks to where he lives was a bonus for him to sign.
“Yeah, I’ve never really played in a team where I hadn’t had to travel,” said Grothe.
“I played for Parramatta for most of my career and also the Roosters, so there was always a good hour each way for training.”
“I know that it’ll be a luxury and it’ll help in terms of recovery as I won’t have to sit in the car and get out with a sore back and whatnot.”
Making the first-grade side is obviously the first aim for Grothe but moving forward, he knows that he cannot look too far ahead and will instead focus on his return bit-by-bit.
“I’m really not thinking of the whole picture,” said Grothe.
“I’m just going to take – and I know it sounds like a cliche – but I’m going to take every day as it comes and whatever’s in front of me for that day, I’m going to do that as best I can.”
“If I’m putting those bricks in place, hopefully there’s not a big wall at the end of it.”
One important factor for Grothe is that being a local, he knows a lot of the players already and has played alongside a few of the current Sharks players.
“Yeah, I know a few of the boys,” said Grothe.
“Johnny Morris and Jeff Robson I’m familiar with and just from living around here, you see the boys down at the mall and that.”
“Being in footy circles for as long as I have, it’s like I’ve been here before.