Another day and another interview and this time, we had a chat with former North Queensland Cowboys and Parramatta Eels player, Shane Muspratt.
In our chat, he spoke about his rugby league career, his foray into coaching and his exciting work with Zambrero among other things.
So sit back and enjoy the read.
- You grew up in Ayr, Queensland; what are your first memories of rugby league growing up in the area?
Growing up in Ayr, my first memories of Rugby League were as a ball boy on the sidelines of some of the most fierce and competitive Foley shield games. Such a strong comp back in those days, to the point dad helped bring former Australian player Ray Brannigan to the Burdekin to play, which just goes to show the calibre of the comp back in those days.
2. Being as close to Townsville as you were, it made sense for your first-grade debut to come with the Cowboys; were you expecting it and what do you remember of your first game?
Prior to the Super League saga, my focus was more in basketball but once I was invited into the system as a 17-year-old off the back of an open trial, you always aspire/dream to play at the highest level, particularly for your hometown/region.
My debut was made a little more special knowing dad’s business donated resources to help build the ground, so knowing all my family and friends could attend my first game in Townsville was pretty special.
3. In 2004, you moved to the Parramatta Eels for a season; what prompted that move?
I got an opportunity and thought it would be good to experience something different. I had a similar offer to stay in NQ, but I thought I was probably getting a bit stale in my approach to training and they say a holiday is as good as a change so I went because I wanted to experience something different.
I didn’t have the best footballing year as I was injured for 60% of the year; firstly with a pretty serious neck injury obtained the last week before the season started and then halfway through the season when I managed to come back into first-grade and play a few games, I broke my hand.
Not a great year but I have always been a believer that things happen for a reason and the best thing I took away from this year was that I met some great people during my time in Sydney to the point where I still stay in contact today and when you run into those that you don’t, it’s still good to laugh and catch up.
4. You then returned to the Cowboys in 2005; was it always your aim to finish your career where you started it?
I didn’t expect to be back that quick but with the year of injuries, it was the easiest and most cost-effective thing to do at the time, going home.
When I returned home, I worked part-time and played semi-professional with the Cowboys young guns Q Cup reserve grade, which although not playing first grade in that year, I feel this was my best season and most consistent year of football.
I didn’t play a lot of first-grade this time either, only a few more games when injuries occurred.
5. Your utility value was appreciated during your career; what was your favourite position to play?
I liked playing 6. I think my basketball days as a point guard had always seen me play as an organising type runner.
6. Post-footy, how are you keeping yourself busy and do you still have an active interest in the sport?
Staying busy through business and family. I own and operate the QLD development region for the Mexican Food franchise – Zambrero. Between work and family life, spare time is limited particularly having 2 boys – Ethan 5 and Carter 7.
I got back into coaching this year, coaching the Wests Panthers (Brisbane) Under 6’s. Had a ball with the kids, not too dissimilar to coaching Q Cup.
HAHA. Jokes aside, coaching for me starting with the Mackay Cutters (feeder team for the Cowboys) was the best 2 years of life lessons I think I learnt in my whole career and something I have really tried to take into business.
Although having no regrets about the goods times I had while playing, you appreciate the discipline and management required to be a first-grade coach.
Personally, I think becoming a parent has also had a lot to do with the stability of where my business and family life has ended up and throw in there the lessons I think team sport provides us with at a very young age, I am very appreciative of my time in the NRL albeit only 64 games.
7. If you could give advice to any budding rugby league player, what would it be?
The game is so different nowadays with its media coverage, in particular, social media.
Jokingly, I would say do as I say not as I did but the biggest thing I have always said; the players of today need to be more accessible and approachable to fans and sponsors, because it’s this network of people you engage with who will probably be the first call you make when you’re looking for work post your football career, however long that is (speaking from experience).
I was fortunate to have some great mentors post-football who I worked with after finishing coaching with the Cutters (sponsors of the Cowboys). I worked with this family for 4 and half years prior to venturing into Zambrero.
I never pretended to be overly academic but I learnt very early from my dad and then further enhanced from my mentors/employers, the importance of building strong relationships is second to known and throw in a bit/a lot of hard work and who knows where life can take you post footy.