Cameron King is a name you should already know. King is the definition of a superstar in the making. Groomed for years to be a future Australian captain. But instead of 2011 being his year, it turned into the year from hell.
Moving from the country to Sydney in pursuit of glory isn’t a new quest. Its been done a thousand times over by a thousand different players. But if anyone has the pedigree to be a champion, its King.
King’s father played for the Penrith Panthers in the 1970’s and Panthers legend Greg Alexander is his brother-in-law.
Since making the St George Illawarra Dragons S.G. Ball team in 2008, King has trail blazed his way up the pecking order at the Saints. By the end of ’08, he was playing in the Toyota Cup.
By 2009, he was captaining the Australian Schoolboys to two massive victories against Great Britain’s Community Lions. Not surprisingly, he was named Man of the Match in both games and awarded the Player of the Series award. He backed that up by captaining New South Wales Under 18’s to victory against Queensland and later represented NSWCHS Under 18’s and was named MVP for the series. The hooker finished the year by joining Olympic legend Ian Thorpe as a winner of the Val Lembit Memorial Trophy for the most outstanding sportsman in NSW.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2011 and expectations are high for the youngster. Wayne Bennett is the first grade coach and you are trying to crack the starting side of the National Rugby League’s defending Premiers. You’ve played a first grade game the previous year and you are stuck behind Nathan Fien on the depth charts.
If that isn’t a challenge for a rookie, nothing is.
Earmarked as a future NSW Blues player by Ricky Stuart and a future superstar by The Daily Telegraph, the Wagga Kangaroos junior got his first start against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the Charity Shield. Dean Young may have been injured and Fein may have been at five-eight, but all the signs were there for King. This was the beginning of something big.
Then came the news that King would travel with the Dragons to the United Kingdom for the World Club Challenge against English giants, the Wigan Warriors.
In the 55th minute and with the game in the balance, King came onto the field and within moments had his first try for the Saints when he barged over for the match-winning try. Cameron King had won the World Club Challenge for the Dragons.
But after celebrating with team-mates only minutes earlier, pain riddled the youngsters body. While stretching out to bring down elusive Englishman Sam Tomkins, King hurt himself.
‘‘I knew straight away something was wrong’’ King said.
‘‘When I found out what I’d done it was devastating. I got back to Australia and had the surgery and then focused on my rehabilitation.’’
A ruptured pectoral muscle would keep him out of football for over five months. 166 days to be precise.
Amazingly, King was still eligible for the Toyota Cup side and made a return from the bench against the Wests Tigers Under 20’s at the Sydney Football Stadium.
By October, he was back in an Australian jumper as he played for the Junior Kangaroos against New Zealand Junior Kiwis in Newcastle. A reward for getting back on the field and doing what he does best.
There are a lot of people hyping up a lot of kids in the NRL these days. Make no mistake about it, this kid is more than just hype.
This article was originally posted on FootySocial.com.au