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How Eels star Shaun Lane turned his life and career around


Stopping Shaun Lane has been impossible this year. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Stopping Shaun Lane has been impossible this year. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Shaun Lane is the first to admit he’s had his fair share of tough times on and off the footy field.

It’s why he’s looking to turn a degree in health science and a nearly completed diploma in psychology into something meaningful when he retires so he can become a mental skills coach to help mentor young players.

“The mental aspect of the game has been one of the reasons why I’ve been able to transform into who I am as a person and a player,” Lane said.

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“If I can pass on that knowledge to other people so they don’t have to go through the same struggles I did, that would be a win for me.”

That transformation started a few years ago and can be traced back to 2016 when Lane was involved in a player swap and uprooted from the Bulldogs and sent to New Zealand, with Raymond Faitala-Mariner replacing him at Canterbury.

The good times didn’t last long for Shaun Lane at Canterbury.
The good times didn’t last long for Shaun Lane at Canterbury.

But the move didn’t work out, with Lane restricted to just one game before he swiftly returned to Sydney to link up with the Sea Eagles the following season.

“When I was a 21-year-old kid, I moved across to New Zealand,” he said.

“I was a mummy’s boy when I was a kid. Mum used to do all my washing and cleaning and everything for me, but I had to move away from everyone.

“That flipped my whole world.

“On top of that, the only reason I moved across was footy, and that went to sh*t.

“I was down in the dumps, and if anything happens to a young bloke who has been idolising this and they’ve had a good ride all the way up until that, once you get your first knock down, it’s quite difficult to get back up again.

“Sometimes people just faze out instead of picking themselves up.

“Being dropped and having to change clubs four times in something like two years (didn’t help).

“I got dropped a bunch of times, I had issues with coaches who said I had a bad attitude.

“People have always said that you need to go through that experience because it’s a learning curve for a young kid, but I don’t think it needs to be that way.

“If I had a bit of guidance in that time and people were telling me the right things and were supportive of me in those situations, then it would have been a bit easier for me. I think that’s somewhere I can help in the future.

“I never really knew what I wanted to do until I started going through some of these things. I became more interested in psychology after seeing how the mental aspect of my approach was assisting.”

Lane is now at the Eels and playing the best footy of his career outside of Dylan Brown on Parramatta’s lethal left edge.

Lane is now part of the best back row in the NRL. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Lane is now part of the best back row in the NRL. Picture: Jonathan Ng

The hulking back-rower has set up 10 tries this year – more than any other edge forward – and it’s the same number he had in his previous seven seasons combined.

It points to a more confident player who understands his role and is confident enough to back his biggest strength – his ability to offload in traffic.

“I think I’ve always had the potential to play like this,” he said.

“Being an edge back-rower, you can sometimes fade in and out of games depending on the players around you. This year, Brad has put a bit more of an onus on the back-rowers and given us more of a job.

“In previous years, he (Dylan Brown) has been a bit hesitant to call for the ball and may have stepped back to allow Mitch (Moses) to take over.

“But this year he’s become more assertive and he’s a lot more confident. He’s drawing in defenders to him and creating a lot more space for his outside players.”

The Eels need Lane and his teammates to maintain the rage over the next four weeks as they face a torrid test of their credentials.

It starts with games against the Rabbitohs, Bulldogs and Broncos – teams that have already beaten Parramatta this season – and finishes with a home game against the Storm.

“If you look at our season so far, those are three teams that we need to tick off to make sure that we have the confidence to know that we’ve done everything so far in the regular season,” Lane said.

“We’ve beaten Penrith twice and we’ve beaten all the other good teams so far – I think we only played the Cowboys once – so if we can tick those boxes then we’ll be supremely confident heading into the finals.”

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