He’s been through more than most in his Rugby League journey. Former Cronulla and NRL star Michael Sullivan was the hooker than had to escape to the UK Super League in order to get himself out of gambling debts. Battling the betting demons and personal turmoil – the likeable Sullivan faced up to all his problems and set about restoring order. He accepted a lucrative contract with the Warrington Wolves and the rest as they say is history.
Michael Sullivan now returns to the NRL with the Bulldogs, the livewire hooker set to show everyone what he is still capable of. The marriage between the decimated Bulldogs and the journeyman Sullivan is certainly an interesting one, both parties looking to re-establish themsleves as a front line contender and the experienced Sullivan could be the saviour for the Bulldogs who are in desperate need of experienced leaders; with the likes of Mason, O’Meley and Sherwin moving on.
It’s easy to forget that Michael Sullivan is 27, it seems like only yesterday he was playing and starring for Cronulla on a weekly basis. However, after starting his career at the Northern Eagles in 2008 – Sullivan has well and truly been around the block and knows how to ply his trade with the ultimate professionalism. While hooking stocks are enormous in 2008, with Cameron Smith and Robbie Farrah leading the parade – there is also Danny Buderus looking to get his rep jerseys back and certainly the revitalized Sullivan will throw his hat into the mix as well.
For Sullivan the problems start in 2004. Sadly, the talented League star lost his mother to cancer and the pressure of everything seemingly de-railed the former Cronulla rake. His gambling addiction grew and he is reported to have literally thrown his mobile phone out the window of his car so he couldn’t contact his bookie anymore to lay the bets.
His return to the NRL is a case of unfinished business. Sullivan could have easily accepted big money in the UK Super League and continued to play out the old spotlight he once had. However, the lure of redemption in the eyes of the Australian public and a chance to link with a club like the Bulldogs – a club Sullivan supported passionately as a child, was too much for him to resist.
With the Michael Sullivan return and several other players re-joining the NRL from the likes of Union and other places, it continues to show that regardless of the big monies on offer in various parts of the world – the lure of big time NRL remains attractive to the serious players. Continually testing and rewarding the stars of the game, it seems 2008 will be no different – lets just hope that Sullivan can achieve all his goals in 2008, and while he won’t be a betting man anymore – you can bet on the fact that he will be up there with the big guns in this seasons permiership.