Sean Mullany’s rugby league career so far could be summarised as ‘have drive, will travel’.
Now featuring for Mackay Cutters, Mullany grew up in Auckland and has played rugby league there and in Townsville, returning to North Queensland for the 2021 season after taking a break from football last year following the cancellation of statewide competitions.
“I was a junior back in Auckland at the Glenora Bears – that was the only club I played for, through and through... I started when I was five through to 17, played there, played school footy at Avondale College and then eventually got picked up by the Cowboys at a national tournament, moved to Townsville for two years, was in the 20s system there, played a little bit with the Blackhawks and then got an opportunity to go home with the Warriors and did a bit of training with the NRL (squad) and played reserve grade there,” Mullany said of his journey leading into the Intrust Super Cup competition this year.
“I have travelled around a bit for football, it’s been good, especially as a young fella; I think it’s one of the best things you can do as a young footy player is to get out of your home town and explore, it’s probably the best thing for footy and outside of footy as well.
“I would be open to moving anywhere, I just love seeing different parts of the world, seeing different cultures.
“Australia and New Zealand are cousins, but they are a lot different in culture I reckon.”
One of the standout players for Mackay this year, Mullany said the young side was working hard to improve their results after struggling to play out full games this season.
“We have a really young core, I’d say we probably have one of the youngest average age for players in the comp, but I think a lot us are pretty confident about what can unfold in the next few years if we can stick that crew together,” the former Junior Kiwis representative said.
“We probably lack confidence through the results that have come throughout the year, I guess missing the rub of the green with some games or just somehow finding ways to lose, but I think if we can figure out how to win… we have been competitive all year, we are just missing a few key pieces and that mentality that we can win and that we can do it.
“It’s been that way with the Cutters for a while, you get so close … even with the fans, they will say to us, ‘you are so close, how good is that’, but that’s not the mentality you want, you want to be winning, you don’t want to be just losing. Just losing is not good enough.
“But if we can keep this crew, it’s one of the best crews I have been a part of in football, I think we have something really good brewing at the Cutters.”
When not playing or training, the Cutters hooker studies part-time and also works as a teacher aide where he enjoys his time in the classroom.
“I am a teacher aide at Beaconsfield State School (and) there’s a running joke that I am the second best footy player to come through here, because Nicho Hynes was here a few years ago,” Mullany said.
“So I always cop flack from the kids about that, that I am not as good as Nicho, but I always say, ‘not yet’, but it is good banter, they are really good kids here, so it’s good to get away from footy and have this kind of job to keep me level and away from footy and keep my headspace nice.
“I want to be a teacher as well, I am studying to be a teacher, so it’s helpful.
“Back home, I was studying sports science and that was part of physical education, so (I want to) finish that degree and I’ll do my diploma and hopefully be a teacher.”
This season, Mullany’s goals - and that of the team - are not only to continue to build on their performances this year, but also to continue to see players make the step up to the next level, be it in the NRL or in the Intrust Super Cup.
“Individual goals, for a lot of the boys and for (coach) Mick Crawley as well, is to get players out of the Cutters and into NRL systems obviously, we have had a few with that, and Ata Hingano, he’s gone over to England with Salford and Kai O’Donnell probably had the shortest Cutters career with one game and then down to the Sharks, which is unreal for him, the boys were all super proud of him,” Mullany said.
“For the team, going forward it is just going to be stringing together a bit of confidence, a few wins, we are doing that now.
“Obviously we had a few weeks off, but I think after that PNG win, the boys are pretty confident and rearing to go and hopefully we can continue that with whoever we play next.
“We have guys come up from local league A Grade comps this year and just absolutely carve up for us, I think Jake Riley is a good story there, he came up from Souths Sharks and he’s found himself at home on our wing and I think he’s just going to keep getting better, so it’s a good story for younger fellas to know there is a pathway there.”