ROLE MODEL: Knights prop Josh Starling spends two to three days every week mentoring indigenous children. Picture: Getty ImagesTHE first impression of Josh Starling when he arrived at the Newcastle Knights was that he was a typical front-rower.
He’s one of those old-school guys who believe that actions speak louder than words. He’s got a dry sense of humour that everyone enjoys, but I think it’s fair to say he’d rather not be the centre of attention.
After playing 60-odd games for South Sydney and Manly, he brought some much-needed experience to our engine room and has quickly established himself as a key member of our team.
Behind the scenes, big Starlo has wasted no time in making his presence felt in his adopted home town.
As well as his football commitments and tertiary studies (he is completinga diploma in community services), he spends two or three days a week visiting Kirinari Hostel to work with the young indigenous kids who board there.
Kirinari has had a pretty famous association with rugby league over the years. In their teens, Greg Inglis, Timana Tahu and Tyrone Roberts all lived there as they completed their education and served their footballing apprenticeships.
Josh realises that, as an NRL player, the kids look up to him.
He’ll go out there and do a training session with them, or some weights in the gym.
As part of his “Breaking Cycles” mentoring program, he sits down with them and talks about issueslike lifestyle choices, leadership,goal-setting and diet.
He wants to help instilpositive thinking and self-belief.
A proud indigenous man, he grew up on the south coast and was fortunate that his football ability created a career path. Other friends weren’t so lucky. They ended up succumbing toalcohol or drugs, with inevitably sadconsequences.
Josh remindsthe kids in his group that their destiny is in their own hands. Just because their peers, or perhaps family members, make bad decisions, you don’t have to follow their example.
He wants them to aim high and dare to dream. His message is that they should aspire to leave a positive legacy, not just at Kirinari but also at the schools they are attending.
He does all this without seeking any fuss or fanfare.
He’s happy to be a quiet achiever …but I find his passion pretty inspirational. It’s great to see someone so motivated to be a positive influence in the community.
On the field, Josh has been leading the way for us up front and he more than held his own against the Bulldogs last week. On Friday his job will be to stop the Roosters, in particular their pack leader Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, from getting a roll-on.
The weather forecast looks good and hopefully being Easter Friday, we get a big crowd turn up. We’ve had great support at our three home games so far and it’s about time we gave you all another win to celebrate.