This article was first written for and published by NRL.com.
Arabella Maree King was born on March 31 and for proud dad Cameron King, her arrival came at the perfect time, not long after he had surgery for a season-ending knee injury.
“Arabella’s arrival has changed my life for the better,” King said.
“Without even knowing it, she has helped me stay positive during this time. Without her, I probably would have slipped into a dark place and into a depression where I have been before because of injury.
“She has been a shining light and without even knowing it, has helped save me.”
King is no stranger to injury in his career. His time at St George Illawarra, North Queensland and Parramatta have all been affected by serious knee injuries.
After struggling to find a club to call home for 2019, King spent a year in the United Kingdom playing for the Featherstone Rovers in the Championship.
When it was announced he was coming home to play for Cronulla in 2020, it seemed like an opportunity for a fresh start, until the devastating moment in a trial game against Canterbury in Port Moresby, when King suffered another ACL tear.
“At the start it was really hard, but my daughter was born three weeks after I had surgery,” he said.
“Having her around, it has made it the easiest rehab I have ever done.”
Despite facing the prospect of another season on the sidelines, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant the silver lining is the opportunity King has had to spend with his family.
“When I first got injured, my positive take on it was that I would get to spend more time at home. That was before the pandemic even started,” he said.
“I’ve got to spend so much time with Arabella which has been unreal. I’m so grateful to have been watch her grow so quickly. As bad as this year has been she has definitely been a shining light.”
We have all been moved by photos shared online by players of their families.
Some of those families have been left behind so players can remain in their team “bubble”.
Adam Elliott’s partner is based in Darwin and before suffering an injury, he was separated from his newborn son. The Warriors have spent months away from their families.
So King is not taking this time for granted.
“You look at the Warriors and I know there are people out there only thinking about the football side of things, but to ask someone to make the sacrifices they have made, I don’t think it is something I could have done with a newborn baby,” King said.
“I think I would have needed to be at home with my family.
“To have those distractions and the mental challenge of being away from your family and the people that you love, it takes its toll.”
For King, this means that whoever wins the 2020 Telstra Premiership should be celebrated, given the tremendous hurdles the team would have had to overcome.
“People talk about that asterisk but in terms of preparing yourself to play and the challenges this year, I think it is one of the hardest competitions ever to win.
“The shortened competition means you have to be at your best every week because every game counts and it is so hard to make it up if you lose a couple in a row. Hats off to whoever wins it this year.”
King reached a major milestone last week. His mum, Amanda, shared a video on Instagram of King running for the first time on the anti-gravity treadmill.
The plan is for King to spend another week doing that before the next big step which will be running in a straight line on the field again.
King has demonstrated time and time again how resilient he is and no doubt if given an opportunity to play again, will take it with both hands.
But for the moment, he’s relishing every moment spent with his daughter… even the smellier ones.
“I’ve been doing plenty of nappy changes. I’m on nappy duty,” he said.
“It’s funny, when it’s your child you’ll do anything for them. So the whole thing has been a wonderful experience.”