Journeyman relishing the NRL chance he didn't see coming
IT WAS the holiday meeting that revived Cameron King's career when he thought his NRL days were done.
Last November, King was catching up with his Australian family and friends following his season with the Featherstone Rovers in the English Championship.
He had planned to return to England to resume his career, but this changed when he met Cronulla coach John Morris.
Thirty minutes later his life plans changed when he walked away with an NRL deal.
"I was shocked - because I genuinely came home for a holiday," King told The Saturday Telegraph.
"I thought I was finished in the NRL, so it took a bit of time for John's offer to sink in.
"He said the Sharks were a bit short in the hooker area and that I was the type of person that he wanted at the club.
"Once he said that it made my decision pretty easy. I also thought Cronulla would be a good opportunity.
"My coach at Featherstone, Ryan Carr, coached the Sharks' 20s with John a few years ago, so I was familiar with people at the club.
"But the main reason was the chance to come back to the NRL and have another crack."
But King faced one major hurdle before he could move back to the NRL.
He had left a lot his possessions in England, which made it difficult to start training with the Sharks immediately.
"So my wife, who was four months pregnant at the time, flew back to England to pack up our house," said King, who is expecting his first child in the first week of April.
"It was a pretty tough process, but we got there in the end.
"It was also a whirlwind coming back and readjusting to full-time training again.
"I probably took for granted the little things that I've done in the NRL for the past 10 years.
"It's why I'm excited to be back and I'm keen as ever to impress."
King is ready to revive his NRL career at Cronulla after failing to cement a consistent first-grade position during stints with St George Illawarra, North Queensland and Parramatta.
Despite his status as a star junior, he was predominantly used as a back-up hooker in the top grade.
After being released by Parramatta in 2018, King was left with no choice but to sign with Featherstone in the English Championship.
The move was a significant step down compared to the NRL, but the boy from Wagga made the most of his opportunity in England.
King excelled with the Rovers, crossing for 18 tries in his 28 games.
"I went over there with an open mind and gave everything I had," he said.
"I didn't go over there kicking stones.
"We had a really good year before losing the final to Toronto.
"I made some good friends and just enjoyed the experience for what it was.
"I've never been one to take things for granted, but having a year over in England made me appreciate Australia even more.
"To get another crack at a club like Cronulla - I'm just stoked."
King, 28, will be one of the oldest players in a team of youngsters when Cronulla take on the Bulldogs in Port Moresby in Saturday's trial.
The Sharks have lost a chunk of NRL experience in recent seasons via big names like Paul Gallen and Matt Prior.
This will open the door for King to take on a leadership role at the Sharks this season as he looks to cement his position behind starting hooker Blayke Brailey.
"We've got a youthful squad and all these guys have worked hard in the preseason, so I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing some footy," he said.
"I'm looking forward to playing that leadership role on and off the field, so hopefully I can help out these younger guys."
LIVE stream the 2020 NRL Preseason Trials with KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >