Ryan, tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Ryan Hoffman, I’m currently 38 years old and I was a professional Rugby League player for two NRL clubs and three Rugby League clubs all together. I grew up in the Western Sydney suburb of Campbelltown. Growing up, I had the best family life - too good actually. I began my professional career at 15 years old and played as a junior on a contract. Once that ended, I was approached by a couple of Sydney teams and Melbourne Storm. I wanted to leave home and see what type of person I was, so I made the move to Melbourne at 18 years old to play for Melbourne Storm. I didn't know one person but I knew I was moving to play Rugby League which is what I ultimately wanted to do. I lived in Richmond with two other rugby players, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith. In 2003 I made my debut and have now won 3 premierships with Melbourne Storm. I also played a season in the UK for the Wigan Warriors where we won a Challenge Cup and was captain for the New Zealand Warriors. Overall I've played 14 origins for NSW and 6 test matches for Australia. I'm now married to my beautiful wife Melissa and have two kids Zac and Mia and I currently work as the Football Operations Manager at Melbourne Storm.
Was NRL always a career you wanted to pursue?
My Dad played for Canberra Raiders and from the moment I can remember, I’ve been around Rugby League. All I’ve ever wanted to do is play. My earliest memory is on the field waiting for Dad to get out of the change rooms, whilst kicking around an empty two-litre bottle of Coke. As much as my parents and school teachers said I had to focus on something else, I always knew I was going to be an NRL player. Rugby League is a passion and I've been lucky enough to be able to work in my passion for over 20 years.
What was the biggest highlight of your career?
I was fortunate that in the 16 years of playing there’s not one thing I didn’t tick off. I always wanted to win a premiership, play Origin and play for Australia. I feel very grateful to have achieved all of that. I was also able to reach the 300 NRL game milestone which was big. If I had to narrow it down to one highlight it would have to be winning the premiership with Melbourne Storm and individually, playing to represent my country.
What was one of your biggest challenges faced?
I suppose it was finding balance, I was always going to have to retire as much as I denied it. Your priorities change when you have a family and when you get to the backend of your career. I didn’t realise how challenging it was for my wife at the time, with me going off to play Origin interstate. She felt alone. It was a challenge for me and I’m disappointed because I never recognised it at the time. It was making sure I was creating a balance for me and that family life. It was also a challenge of having a life after football, so I did my Bachelors in Business, whilst playing and having a family and this made the retirement a lot easier. You have to realise you have an identity other than ‘Ryan Hoffman the former Rugby League Player’.
What's the most important thing you learnt whilst playing sport at a professional level?
There is no magic formula, everyone asks why the Melbourne Storm are so good and what’s the silver bullet, but there is no silver bullet. It’s simple - ‘hard work and high standards’. When I started at Melbourne Storm I had some great leaders and I wanted to impress them. I created those good habits right off the bat which ensured those standards had to be carried on throughout my career. I learnt how to lose and how to win, whilst realising that the game doesn’t owe me anything, I owe everything to the game and club.
Give us one piece of advice you would give to a young aspiring sport professional?
It would be 'Would you be proud of the man you became?'. It’s always something that’s resonated with me when I was kid. You think back to that kid and think 'Have I made them proud?'. Also, things don't just happen - I know what you think is going to happen is in your head, but what you want to achieve is something you have to work hard for. It also goes back to my previous saying - the game doesn’t owe me anything, I owe the game.
What did hard work look like to you on a day-to-day basis?
It was easy to measure and for me it was continuous improvement. You can’t improve if you’re not working hard. That’s on the field, in the gym and in your other areas. For me I struggled to keep weight on, so I needed to be a 24 hour athlete. It was coming home eating right, eating my two dinners, waking up at 2am to have a protein shake. It wasn’t a challenge because it was something I wanted to do.
How do you like to spend your spare time now off the field?
Doing activities with the kids, the older they get the more fun they are! Whether that’s going to the cricket nets or shooting basketball hoops together. I’m also really into smoking meat and American College Football, I’m a massive University Southern California fan.
What’s your favourite day-to-day outfit?
I’m into the jogger pants and oversized t-shirts, in summer I like shorts with a button up shirt. I keep it nice and casual.
One pair of Rhinos you’re loving at the moment?
Hart Navy – perfect for summer with a linen shirt and shorts.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
Early bird or Night Owl? Night Owl
Knock Off Drink of Choice? Beer or Whiskey
Favourite artist? Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Blink 182
Favourite food? Slow-cooked Ribs or Pulled Pork Brisket
Introvert or Extrovert? Both
Keep up to date with Ryan and his career on Instagram