Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 16: Scott Sattler

Scott Sattler celebrating after the 2003 grand final win

Yet another interview and it is a cracker! Scotty Sattler, a talented lock, a workhorse and as we all know, the man who made THAT tackle in 2003.

We talk to him about his earliest rugby league memories, his time on the Gold Coast, his post-footy exploits and much more.

Let’s get stuck to it! Our Scott Sattler interview.

1. What are your earliest memories of rugby league?

Brisbane 1975. I was turning 4 but my Dad was in his last year in the Queensland competition in Brisbane with Norths.

I didn’t really understand what was happening but I remember playing under the A frame signage that was around Lang Park. It wasn’t until I was about 9-10 that I realised that RL played a big part in our family.

I used to wear Dad’s Australian jersey’s around the house and when we went to the first origin match in 1980, everyone kept stopping him and talking to him about Footy.

That is when I thought “he was pretty popular and it must be because of RL”. I played soccer till I was 12.

2. Your debut came with the Gold Coast Seagulls in 1992; how was rugby league perceived in the area at the time, now more than two decades ago?

Very strong. Great local competition and amazing players in the local competition. I remember loving the GC Giants in 1988 and watching the local NSWRL side and other Sydney teams come to the GC and watch your heroes.

To get a contract in 1991 and then debut in 1992 as a young player was exciting. The locals supported the local team but loved the opportunity to get up close and personal with the players like Mario Fenech, Brett Kenny, Terry Lamb, the great Canberra side etc…

3. After brief stints with Eastern Suburbs and then the South Queensland Crushers, you returned to the Gold Coast, this time playing under the CHARGERS moniker; what prompted your move back?

I started playing first grade young and then suffered a broken ankle and broken jaw and really lost my way for a couple of years. I didn’t like my time at the Roosters in Sydney, it just didn’t feel right for me in Sydney.

Then, at the Crushers, I thought everything was going ok but I got moved through positions I wasn’t accustomed to like centre and just stayed there for 18 months.

Why did I go back to the GC? 2 reasons. At the start of the 1996 season, we were told as players we would not be getting paid at the Crushers. The club had no money after 12 months so we had to play for the love of it, which didn’t bother me so much because I never lost sight of playing the game for the right reasons but I went out and got 2 jobs to make ends meet.

I had just bought my first house and had mortgage payments so for me and a lot of other players, we really lost faith in the club.

So, I thought to myself to get going again sometimes you need to go back to where it started and start all over again. So that’s what I did. The second reason; my good mate Jamie Goddard was there also. Best decision I made.

4. You took your talents to Penrith in 1999, culminating in the 2003 grand final success, a fitting way to end your time at the club; talk us through what it meant to make the grand final and how it felt to win?

I love Penrith and the region. I felt at home as soon as I arrived. Making a Grand Final is hard to explain. Ours was a little different to most because we had received the wooden spoon in 2001, not much better 2002, sitting last after 2 rounds in 2003 then went on this amazing run where we just learnt how to win, it became a habit.

The region itself were crazy during that year, record crowds most weeks. Rd 26 match v Parramatta was scary the amount of people they jammed into Penrith Stadium. When we beat the Broncos week 1 of the finals and had to face Warriors, we knew we would be playing in a GF.

Might sound arrogant but we had the wood on the Warriors, we had beaten them convincingly 3 times already in 2003. For guys like Girdler, myself, Puletua, Wesser, Gower, we had tasted a fair bit of defeat over the previous 2 years so we looked at the Grand Finals differently to players like Lewis, Rooney, Swain, Rodney, Clinton because they had been apart of successful Panthers junior teams.

John Lang from day 1 of GF week said to us that we need to enjoy every moment of the week because you may not get the opportunity ever again. So we did; we opened ourselves to the media, made ourselves available and enjoyed the week.

Our game plan from Lang was simple, “they are big and they run hard and tackle hard, so we are going to run harder and tackle harder for 80 minutes”.

I remember vividly before the game, the dressing room cameras showed both dressing rooms, I was still sitting in the stands watching our premier league side in the GF and it showed Anthony Minichiello very nervous and focused then it showed our shed and Preston was laughing, smiling mucking around.

We were very relaxed and I think it helped us settle into the occasion. John Lang never let us get too far ahead of ourselves and always kept everything very simple.

I truly only thought we had won it when Preston kicked the goal in the pouring rain from the sideline after Rooneys last try. At 18-6, I felt that kick broke their back.

I watched their body language as they ran back to kick off and I thought it said, “we are done”.  The celebrations after were amazing, Penrith’s main street was closed when we went back to the club, the club was jammed full and I can not remember buying a drink all week.

I woke up in the drive thru of the Penrith KFC on the Tuesday. I was sitting under the speaker you order your food. I had a ripped shirt and my GF ring on and no one had stolen it. That’s how much the locals loved the team.

5. Of course, we have to ask; that now FAMOUS tackle. Just run us through your feelings and emotions at the time knowing now, just how important a moment it was in the grand final.

Without sounding arrogant, I don’t think to this day it played a huge part. I think it played a part but not the overall part. John Lang prepared me for that moment from the day he arrived at the club in 2002.

As a lock, he asked me to make sure I tried to cover the backfield on the last tackle just in case I was needed. I did that every training session and every game and it was my last ever game that his instructions were required.

I was always going to chase Todd and hopefully make him score in the corner or step back in and Rhys Wesser would clean him up, but being a wet night it was one for the mud-runners that night.

My greatest memory of the game was a run by Martin Lang at around the 63rd minute mark when I started to think we had thrown everything at this great Roosters side and maybe their great players will go to another level.

He had been knocked out twice already and they lined him up to hit him again and they pinballed off him and he kept running.

I remember thinking; he is the toughest guy I know and that is the inspiration we needed, they are going to have to be good to beat us now. 

6. Your final year of rugby league was 2004 at the Wests Tigers and you were named captain; what made you choose the Tigers for your final year?

It wasn’t my decision. At the start of 2003, I was told if I was playing well they would have another 2 year contract for me. I was playing well and made Origin but due to so many good young players, they needed upgrading also.

So, being one of the oldest, I was told due to the salary cap I couldn’t be offered another contract. It hurt at first because I always wanted to retire at the club and at the time I was pretty dirty about it but understanding the salary cap upon retirement, it was the right decision.

Going to the Tigers was an easy decision. I always wanted to be coached by Tim Sheens.

My previous coach Royce Simmons was the assistant coach and I loved Royce. I still thought I had plenty to offer as a player and I had a good year, as a skipper and also to the younger players at the Tigers like Scott Prince, Benji Marshall, Robbie Farah, Dene Halatau and co.

I had to finish a year earlier than I anticipated at the end of 2004 due to my knee locking up constantly during games. They won the comp in 2005.

7. Post-footy, we see you often in NRL commentary and radio; is there anything else you’re up to outside of media commitments?

I also have an investigation firm that I run. We cover all areas of investigations for e.g evidence gathering, litigation support, surveillance, locate people of Interest.

It is an area that I have always looked to invest in and operate. Outside of that, I also study Criminology at University.

8. If you could give advice to any budding rugby league player, what would it be?

It is all about your work ethic. Be prepared to listen, sacrifice and train harder than everyone else if you truly want to give yourself the best opportunity. Your attitude is what defines you.

Scott Sattler during his Gold Coast Chargers days

 

 

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