There’s been a bit of a hiatus with the NRL player interviews but it’s back and rating to go!
We had a brief chat with former Penrith Panthers, Cronulla Sharks and Queensland Maroons prop, Martin Lang.
A no-nonsense, hard-running and determined forward, Lang was the workhorse of any team he played for and a well-respected player.
Our chat covers his early days of league, his NRL stint and that famous tackle from the 2003 NRL grand final.
1) What are your earliest memories of rugby league?
My father taking me to Lang Park in the 80’s to watch State of Origin.
2) Your father John Lang is a name etched in rugby league folklore; what was it like to have him as a father who loved rugby league and how did he help you become a better player and person?
My father is a man of high moral fibre. He provided both myself and my siblings with a wonderful childhood, never putting pressure on us and supporting whatever we chose to do.
He never pushed rugby league onto me. I pushed rugby league onto myself.
3) You made your debut at the Cronulla Sharks in 1996; what do you remember of your first game and were you expecting the call up?
I remember the game well, playing at the SFS against the Roosters alongside Les Davidson was very surreal.
I wasn’t really expecting the call up but was being mentioned around the place as I’d had a good year in reserve grade. I was 20 years old.
4) After numerous seasons at the Sharks, you moved to the Panthers in the early 00’s; what prompted that move out West?
I went to Penrith to play under Royce Simmons who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, both as a coach and a person.
I didn’t re-sign at the Sharks because playing under Chris Anderson wasn’t something that appealed to me.
5) Of course, that move out West lead to a premiership with Penrith in 2003; what was it like to lift the premiership trophy with such a talented team?
The premiership with Penrith was the culmination of many years of hard work but not quite getting there.
To win it with my father was special. Dad deserved that more than anyone.
6) We also have to ask – Scotty Sattler’s now famous tackle on Todd Byrne on that very game in that very game is still talked about and replayed to this very day; what do you remember of the moment?
The Sattler tackle. It really epitomised who Scott was and how he played his whole career.
Most of the little one percenters that Scott did on the field wouldn’t get noticed by the wider public but his teammates and coaches did.
I thought it was fitting that he would finally get the recognition he deserved for a play that he’d be making his entire career.
7) You also played Origin for Queensland; how does Origin differ from the NRL arena and what did mean to you to don the Maroons jersey?
Origin was a very surreal experience. I grew up in Brisbane as an Origin fanatic as a child.
To become an Origin player and have the opportunity to play alongside so many great players I’d admired from afar was an overwhelming experience.
My father and I were the first father/son to do so.
8) After a career that spanned almost a decade, you retired in 2004; what have you been up to in the years since?
I studied at University doing a biomedical/exercise science degree and now work in the medical device industry specialising in the spine area.