Back again with part 2 of our NRL interview series and we had a chat with former St George Illawarra Dragons, Brisbane Broncos and Catalan Dragons hooker, Aaron Gorrell.
He spoke to us about his career, his post-playing days and why he went into coaching, so sit back, read and enjoy the ride!
Aaron Gorrell interview:
1. As a Wollongong local, did you always harbour an ambition to play for the St George Illawarra Dragons?
Growing up in Wollongong, I would go and sit on the hill and watch the Steelers. I was lucky enough to then play Harold Matthews, SG Ball and Flegg for them so, at that stage, that was what I always wanted to do. I always had a soft spot for the Dragons so it was easy once they merged!
2. Tell us about the match-winning conversion in round 15, 2006 against the Broncos. What was running through your head at the time with the game on the line?
As a goal kicker, it’s the moment you’ve always dreamt of especially at a ground like Suncorp with a big crowd against a team like the Broncos. I hadn’t had a shot that night – Matty Head had taken the previous shots. I was heading back and one of the trainers called me back saying the call had come down for me to take it. It was probably a blessing as I didn’t have too much time to over think it. To me, as soon as I kicked it, I thought it was going through!
3. After such a good start to your career at Catalans, you unfortunately injured your knee and missed the rest of the season; did you set any goals upon your return and what got you through the rehabilitation?
Yeah, it was very frustrating. Being at a new club and wanting to make a good impression. We had won our first two games, one of them Hull who were beaten in the grand final the year before and leading Leeds by 40 when it happened. It was tough – probably the toughest few months of my career. Trying to be part of a new club in a new country. I was doing everything I could to try and get back on the field.
4. What were the reasons behind your NRL return in 2009 with the Brisbane Broncos?
I had a third-year option at Catalans and was more than happy to stay. It’s a great club and great supporters, not to mention an amazing part of the world to live in. While we were sorting that out, the Broncos option came up and I thought the opportunity to play for a club like the Broncos was too good to pass up.
5. You took a step away from professional rugby league to take up the coaching role at the Queanbeyan Kangaroos; how has that experience been so far?
Yes, I always wanted to coach and my body wasn’t handling the full-time training. So when I was approached by the Queanbeyan Kangaroos, I jumped at it. They were a club that had a lot of success but hadn’t won a Comp in 30 years so I thought it was a good challenge. We won the 1st two years – 2010 and 11 – got beat in the GF in 2012 and won again in 2013. We made the semis 2014 and final 2015. 2016 was very disappointing. We lost round 1 and went the rest of the year undefeated. We led the GF until the last minute and got beaten by a penalty goal . I’ve enjoyed my time here and hopefully we can win another this year!
6. In addition to that, has coaching always been an avenue you have wanted to pursue post-footy?
I’ve loved coaching so far and I’d love an opportunity if one pops up. There’s nothing better than seeing someone learn something from you or helping them achieve what they have been working towards.
7. Looking back on your career, what was your career highlight?
There are a few and all for different reasons. Obviously, your debut will always be special. Playing for the Junior Kangaroos was special. I think no matter what level, pulling on your countries jumper will always be special. The kick in Brisbane. The 1st grand final at the Queanbeyan Kangaroos is up there, too. Only a few years before they were getting beat by 100, so to see how much it meant to the players and supporters that were there through the tough times was amazing!
8. If you could give one piece of advice to young, budding rugby league players, what would it be?
Train hard, listen and never stop learning. You can learn something from everyone!