This article was first written for and published for NRL.com.
“I am very proud that he has persevered. If you want someone who is resilient, that’s Cam. He’s a great footballer, but it’s the more personal stuff that makes my heart swell with pride.” – Amanda King [Cameron’s mum]
Headgear. Mouthguard. The jersey tucked into his shorts. The shorts that were 10 sizes too big that came up to his armpits.
They are Amanda’s earliest memories of her son Cameron King who started playing footy at age four in the under-7s. Cameron had tried to play when he was three, but there was no under-6s team, so he had to wait.
When his kindergarten teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, his response was “a big footy player”.
Then there was the time Sonny Bill Williams turned up at the King household to see Cameron, all because Amanda had by chance found out where he was living and had dropped a note in his mailbox saying ‘Thank you for being a good role model for my son. His name is Cameron and here is his telephone number’.
Amanda remembers Cameron storming into the living room later that day, saying Sonny Bill had just telephoned and he would be there in 15 minutes. Sonny Bill appeared with a box of gear for Cameron and some words of wisdom for the bright-eyed boy still dreaming of a career in footy.
There have been plenty of moments during Cameron’s career that stand out for Amanda including the World Club Challenge where he scored the winning try, signing a contract at 14 and when he made his debut at 18, but Amanda is most proud of how resilient her son has been through some serious injuries.
And on whether Cam needs a reminder to get Amanda a Mother’s Day gift? Apparently he is pretty good with that sort of stuff, but it hasn’t always been that way.
Amanda walked around the corner so she couldn’t see what they were buying, but rushed back around the corner to a ruckus a couple of minutes later. She found her kids rumbling over the money. Who won that fight? It was Cameron’s sister, Katelyn. “Don’t tell Cameron I told you that story.”
“Congratulations, your Dad and I are extremely proud of you and all of your achievements and we wish you all the best for an enjoyable 100th game.” – Ann-Maree Boyd [Shannon’s mum]
Shannon Boyd will play his 100th NRL game on Sunday for Canberra when they take on Cronulla. A special woman will be watching from the stands, as she always does – Shannon’s mum, Ann-Maree.
She remembers her son – the gentle giant – who spent most of his early years playing footy for fun and to spend time with his friends.
Because of his size, Shannon found it easier than most to find the try line. But on one particular day when Ann-Maree asked her son why he hadn’t taken the ball up himself to score, Shannon sheepishly responded the boy he had passed the ball to hadn’t scored a try that season; that his teammate’s mum was there watching; and everyone should get a go.
Unfortunately, when Shannon passed the ball to that boy, he promptly proceeded to drop it.
It was at age 16 that Shannon started taking footy more seriously and Ann-Maree has been lucky enough to watch her son debut for the Raiders and then also more recently, to represent his country.
His career has also given Ann-Maree and her husband Peter the opportunity to travel as widely as Cairns, Perth, New Zealand and England to watch their son. They try not to miss any games.
Mother’s Day will have extra significance for Shannon because he now has a child of his own, a son named Lawson that he and partner Nadia welcomed into the world late last year.
Since becoming a dad, Ann-Maree has watched her son grow more comfortable showing his softer side and laughs as she reveals it’s also made him a lot more responsible.
I catch Pamela at the airport. She’s waiting to catch a flight to the Gold Coast to see her son Nathan Peats and also to see her grandbabies.
Pamela has two grandbabies that she adores – Leyton and Harlen-Reign. When I asked Pamela if they remind her of Nathan growing up, she tells me Harlen is an angel and that Leyton is a devil, just like his dad.
There are plenty of stories about a cheeky Nathan growing up. But there are even more stories about how much he loved his footy.
Nathan would always put his body on the line for his teammates. Despite being one of the smaller players, opposition teams would fear him because they knew he was the best tackler on the team.
Her son has gone on to achieve plenty in the game including making every representative team growing up, captaining the South Sydney under-20s and also playing State of Origin.
He’s also known as having a wicked sense of humour, which can occasionally be misunderstood.
Before leaving for the Gold Coast, Pamela sent Nathan a text telling him that she had put on a couple of kilograms since Christmas. Nathan’s response to that message? ‘Pammy, you better pack your training gear’.
But it’s that sense of humour that Pam treasures and when she was going through cancer treatments recently, she credits that sense of humour for helping her get through it. Pam also loves his generous heart and finds it hard to put into words how much her son has looked after her over the years.
When I talk to Pam, there’s a sense of gratitude for the family that rugby league has given her and for the opportunities, it has given her son. She speaks glowingly about Nathan’s footy friends like Trent Merrin, Brad Takairangi, and Adam Reynolds, and their families.
If it wasn’t for Adam’s dad, Nathan potentially may never have made it. It was Adam’s dad who used to pick Nathan up to go to training and Pam would pick him up from their place later in the evening once she had finished work.
I have a feeling I know where Nathan inherited his sense of humour from…
To all the mums out there, happy Mother’s Day and thank you for everything that you do. Enjoy your very special day.