Jarrod Mullen is living in the present, focusing on the future and is excited to be playing rugby league again.
A veteran of 211 NRL games for Newcastle Knights, Mullen was today unveiled by Sunshine Coast Falcons as their latest signing for the 2021 Intrust Super Cup season and he can’t wait to return to a team environment again.
For the past four years, Mullen – who also represented New South Wales in State of Origin – was banned from the game, including playing and training with a team, after he returned a positive drug test.
However, after hitting rock bottom and nearly dying from a drug overdose, Mullen has spent the past few years getting his life back on track, including completing a course in alcohol and drug counselling.
Now, he is looking forward to challenging himself on the field and proving to himself that he can again mix it with some of the best players in the game.
“It’s been a long journey... it’s been a tough one I will never forget,” Mullen told assembled media at the Sunshine Coast today.
“I just want to thank the Falcons for giving me the opportunity, everyone I have dealt with here since I have been here has been great.
“I don’t want to prove to everyone, I want to prove to myself that I can do it.
“I believe in my ability, I believe in how hard I have trained over the past two years, and the amount of time I have done to get my body in the right shape for the Intrust Super Cup.
“I am looking forward to the challenge... I am under no illusions that it is going to be tough; four years out of the game is a long time, but I have sacrificed a lot to get to get myself back this point.
“I am really looking forward to getting back out there and I can’t thank the Falcons and the Queensland Rugby League enough, and also the Integrity Unit and the whole NRL for giving me a chance at coming back and giving me another chance of chasing my dream.”
Throughout the process of his return to the game, Mullen has been forthright about his past and honest about the mistakes he made along the way.
Thankful for his new opportunity, Mullen said he hoped to move forward in the right direction.
“I want to look forward to be honest, what’s happened in the past has happened in the past and I can’t change what has happened in the past,” Mullen said.
“All I can focus on now is the present and the future and that’s the Falcons, and their goal ultimately is to win this premiership and I want to help them get there.
“There is obviously going to be people asking questions, I have been open with my past, but you can’t look forward looking backways, I have got to keep looking forward and to the future and the present, and that is playing good football up here and that’s my main goal.”
For the Falcons, the chance to sign someone of his experience was appealing, with Mullen also open to sharing his story to help educate others.
“The Falcons are excited to give Jarrod an opportunity to play footy again,” Sunshine Coast Falcons CEO Chris Flannery said.
“Jarrod’s worked very hard to turn his life around over the last few years and has done everything required of him, personally and from a community perspective, to ensure that he’s ready to begin training again on Monday (once his ban concludes).
“He’s eager to contribute positively back to the game that he loves, the community and the Falcons football club and we look forward to supporting him throughout the next phase of his football career.”
QRL statewide competitions manager Dave Maiden echoed Flannery’s thoughts and said Mullen had “worked extremely hard during the past 18 months to get his life back on track”.
“There is no denying the past four years of his life have been eventful, to say the least,” Maiden said.
“I believe he will be an asset and will also be able to help educate all of our participants through the telling of his tale.”
QRL managing director Rob Moore said the governing body were “comfortable with Jarrod’s registration” after meeting with him and the management of the Falcons.
“He has obviously made some mistakes which he has moved on from and we believe he can use those learnings to make a positive impact, particularly in the wellbeing space,” Moore said.
“Ultimately though, the onus is on Jarrod himself to step up and make a strong contribution to the club, community and the Intrust Super Cup.”
A talented halfback, Mullen was handed the unenviable task of replacing Andrew Johns at the Knights after his retirement. Now, with the Falcons already blessed by the skills of award-winning playmaker Todd Murphy, Mullen was happy to do anything that was required of him to feature in the team.
“Whatever (role) Sammy (Mawhinney, Falcons coach) and the team need me to play, I will play any role,” Mullen said.
Mawhinney said he was excited to have someone of Mullen’s quality join the squad and contribute to their on-field goals.
“(He is) a massive signing for us and is going to add some excitement to what we want to do this year,” Mawhinney said.
“He is a half, but it is Todd’s team, Todd is still going to run the show and Mullo will play off the back of that.
“Whether that’s at six, or in a utility role off the bench, we are probably going to ease him in that way and see how he goes in the trials and the early rounds and go from there; but Mullo needs to be on the footy.”
Despite the changes to the rules which have been introduced for this season, Mullen was confident in his ability to play good football.
“I have trained hard the last two years to get my body in the right shape to come back and compete at a high level, so I had no doubt in my mind that if someone gave me the opportunity, which I am grateful the Falcons have, that I would be able to match it again at that level," Mullen said.
“I was travelling down to Melbourne once a month to train with a bloke named Christian Woodford, who is the same bloke that got Sandor back from his long layoff.”
Asked what his goals were for his return season in the game, Mullen said he wanted to make the most of his opportunity and share his knowledge with other players.
“Stay injury free, that’s the main goal, and stay on the field as much as possible; and just to help the young kids come through and if they can learn from any experiences from me and (give) any advice they need is my main goal,” Mullen said.
“And obviously play good football... I am not here to muck around, I am here to play good football for the Falcons and that’s my main goal.
“(It) feels like I am making my debut again.
“I have got a lot of energy and I am looking to bring that to the Falcons.”