Still celebrating after taking the Beerwah Bulldogs to their first rugby league premiership, and preparing to captain Greece in their first World Cup, Jordan Meads has had a successful year.
But sadly, that wasn’t always the case.
As one of the youngest players to sign an NRL contract, a 13-year-old Meads was living his sporting dream – but it would soon become a nightmare.
A self-confessed lack of commitment, that saw Meads at four NRL teams before his twentieth birthday, left the talented halfback hating football.
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Today, the 28-year-old may not be getting the same six figure deals he once did, but thanks to his loving family and a strong belief, Meads is happier than ever.
And it is showing on the footy field.
He took a break between ice baths after his recent premiership win as captain-coach with the Beerwah Bulldogs to chat with Sunshine Coast Daily journalist Matt Collins about his incredible sporting journey so far.
THE NEXT BIG THING
Growing up in New Zealand, Meads admits he was just like any other “standard Kiwi bloke” but he matured a bit quicker than the other kids.
He dreamt of playing for the All Blacks and many believed even at the tender age of 13 he had the ability to go all the way.
NRL codes were also impressed with the New Zealand teen’s ability and Meads was offered a trial with the Brisbane Broncos – even if his protective dad was initially against the move across the ditch.
“Dad was always really hard on me. He said I was too young,” Meads said.
“But it got to a stage where he said, ‘you know what? If you want it you can have it, but you have to commit to it’.”
Living in a Red Hill sharehouse with players who would go on to become household sporting names, Meads looked up to his new housemates and friends.
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But Meads admits their obvious age difference exposed him to an adult world he wasn’t prepared for.
“I lived with a bunch of 18 year olds. I went to some places I shouldn’t have,” he said.
“I told my dad I wanted to come home, he wouldn’t let me.
“He said, ‘you made your bed now you have got to sleep in it’.”
‘SO MUCH PRESSURE’
Enticed by “massive deals”, Meads admits he believed the grass would be greener if he switched clubs.
But after stints at North Queensland Cowboys and Melbourne Storm, the young man was still no happier.
In fact, he had begun to hate the game of rugby league.
“I had so much pressure,” Meads said.
“From the age of 5, my dad could see something in me that other kids didn’t have.
“I was living, breathing, sleeping rugby league.”
It finally all boiled over when Meads’ manager asked him, “if you could sign with anyone, who would it be?”
“Nowhere” was the reply.
“He said, ‘don’t you want to play NRL?’.
“I said I couldn’t think of anything worse,” Meads said.
BEST UNDER-20s SIDE EVER
Back in New Zealand, Meads’ passion for the game began to resurface and in 2010 he signed with the Warriors.
The crafty halfback was once again enjoying his footy and it was showing on the field.
Meads was one of the obvious standouts in the 2011 Toyota Cup team that is still touted as the best Under-20s team the NRL has ever seen.
They averaged 35 points per game and Meads kicked the winning field goal to clinch the 2011 title.
After playing internationally, Meads and his family could not resist the Sunshine Coast salt air.
After seasons with Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles and Kawana Dolphins, he was invited to take on the challenging role as captain-coach of Beerwah Bulldogs.
A tough feat considering the Bulldogs’ trophy cupboard had been bare for their entire 41-year history.
That was until last week when Meads lead the Dogs to their first emotional premiership in the Division One Brisbane Rugby league competition.
He may never have played in the NRL, but Meads will captain players that do at the upcoming 2021 Rugby League World Cup held in England.
In a testament to his persistence and professionalism, Greek coach and Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs’ 2020 interim coach Steve Georgalis entrusted Meads with the role of skipper.
A position he does not take for granted.
“I feel very honoured to be representing my Greek heritage,” Meads said.
The 2021 World Cup will be the first time Greece has been represented in the international sporting event.
Meads is the first to say when he started at the New Zealand Warriors in 2010 his football improved dramatically.
He is adamant it was no coincidence it was also the year he found God.
“My Christian faith was part of me maturing as a man, on and off the rugby league field,” he said.
“I am incredibly blessed, I owe a lot to my faith and my church.”
STORIES OF HOPE
Meades will present his emotional sporting journey live at the upcoming Stories of Hope event.
Joining Meades is fellow Sunshine Coast resident Ros Waters sharing her incredible weight loss journey.
Stories of Hope is a free event and will be held at the Sands Tavern, Maroochydore on Tuesday, October 27 from 7pm.
For more information go to the website.