Maitland junior Max King continued a family tradition on Friday night when he debuted with the Gold Coast Titans.
The 19-year-old second-rower, who was the Titans under-20 player of the year in 2016, became the fourth generation of King men to play NRL first grade.
King, who played his junior football with West Maitland, follows in the footsteps of his father Dave, who played with the Gold Coast Seagulls, grandfather John a legend at St George and great-grandfather Cecil who played with South Sydney.
“It was awesome, an absolutely unreal experience and to get the win as well made the post game experience even better,” King said of his debut in the Titans 24-16 win against Parramatta Eels at Cbus Stadium.
“Getting to sing the song with the boys and getting the family in the sheds was awesome.
“On the field the senior boys made it a bit easier. They were talking to me letting me know what they wanted from me, where to be, where to go. It made it all easier
“The major difference in first grade is that everyone is bigger, stronger, faster. Every tackle seemed to burn more energy.”
The major difference in first grade is that everyone is bigger, stronger, faster. Every tackle seemed to burn more energy.Max King
Celebrations with family included his English grandparents who travelled up to the Gold Coast with his dad and mum, Caroline. Dave and Caroline met and married in Huddersfield during Dave’s 10-year Super League career and both Max and his older brother Oliver were born in the UK.
The Huddersfield connection also extends to King’s adopted Gold Coat family, Dave’s UK teammate Craig Weston and his wife and two daughters.
King was part of the Knights junior programs but believed there were better career paths for him at the Titans.
“When I came up to that 20s stage, I just wanted to be at the club where I saw I had the best opportunity at.
“I didn’t see that at the Knights, as much as I wanted to stay in the Hunter with family, the pathway there wasn’t clear for me.
“The Titans rang me and said they wanted to sign me and it was just more of the fact they wanted me.
“I could tell that’s where the pathway was for me. I’ve been fortunate dad’s old footy mates lives up on the Gold Coast and I’ve been able to move in with them and they’ve just been sensational.
“The Titans gave me the opportunity in the 20s and last year it just sort of blew up for me. They re-signed me on a full-time first grade deal.
“Everything has happened so quick.
“Looking back in Newcastle I was struggling to make the SG Bull team. At 17 I was struggling to make the local rep team and at 19 I’m playing NRL it is just crazy how everything has escalated.
“In these last couple of months Neil Henry and the coaching staff have really shown a lot of faith in me.
“There were a couple of other clubs sniffing around and the Titans put away everything. They said we want to keep you.
“Even going on Friday night, in my opinion, there were a lot of good players ahead of me in terms of first grade squad and Neil pulled me over and said ‘you’ll be getting your crack’.
“I’m not sure about next week, but I’m chomping at the bit to get a crack. It would be great to play against JT and the Cowboys.”