KNIGHTS INSIDER - Willie Mason
Sunday 17 March 2013 4:02 PM
This week Willie Mason sat down to take your questions for Knights Insider. He was asked about being coached by Wayne Bennett, his aspirations post football and even if he will bring the afro back.
@senorbarnesy via Twitter: In your days as a Bulldog/Rooster, did you ever have an urge to return home and play for Newcastle?
Willie Mason: I never wanted to leave Newcastle. I was a Newcastle junior and wanted to play first grade for Newcastle like Danny Buderus has done. Circumstances as a young kid, there were rules that happened as a result of Super League that meant I left. It wasn’t by choice, I could have played my career here but I don’t regret it at the same time. I have managed a career around the world and I am now happy to be back. You can’t change the past and you have got to look forward.
@LeighHarper via Twitter: Is Wayne Bennett the best coach you have ever had?
WM: Wayne is arguably the greatest coach of all time in rugby league.
@cboole88 via Twitter: Willie first off congrats on your form mate doing us all proud. Do you think you are at the form that will get you a rep spot?
WM: If I keep playing well and being among the best players at the Knights, and we are playing good football, that is when all those rep jerseys seem to come. You have to be one of the best forwards in one of the best acts to be noticed. In saying that, it isn’t at the front of my mind but when the rep season does come along and if I am still playing well enough then you probably think I will be a chance, but no one really cares after one game of the season, definitely not me anyway. I know the work that needs to be done to get those jerseys and I need to keep working hard and playing consistently.
Roger Stuart via email: Do you think your charity boxing match helped with your fitness for this season?
WM: I think it has made me sharper and a bit more confident. I doubt it will help me play better, because boxing is boxing and football is football. It may have given me a head start and made me fitter with all the training I had to do. I enjoyed it and I would do it again.
@Mtweet80 via Twitter: Willie, have you been paid this month?
WM: Yes of course, I have been paid every single month since I signed with the Knights. There are no financial problems with the Knights, we are a great club and no one has any issues with that. Tinks (Nathan Tinkler) is a great bloke and he has done great for Newcastle. And I can’t wait for him to get back to Newcastle from where ever he is to have a beer with him.
Sarah via email: Who is your funniest teammate and why?
WM: Jarrod Mullen, people might not think he is funny but we make each other laugh and Jeremy Smith, he has the same sense of humour as us. Aku is entertaining as well.
@Nicks_Twit88 via Twitter: When you were a free agent were there any other clubs with serious offers? Would you considered retiring if there was no interest?
WM: There were offers when I was sitting in the south of France, there was about four or five coaches that rang and asked if I was keen to come back but it is obviously a bit different with me. There was a lot of red tape to go through. I was never really worried about signing with a club nor was I really contemplating retirement otherwise I would never have left France, I would of stayed there for another two years or maybe longer.
@dannythomsen26 via Twitter: Do you think Origin should be on a stand alone weekend?
WM: That is a good question. I don’t think so because it has been working so why change it? It takes a bit of a toll on players if they consistently play Origin and I have been one of those players but Wednesday night seems to work. It is still the best concept in our game and I don’t think it should be changed because it is not broken.
@KaneS1994 via Twitter: Willie, what will you do with your after you retire from Rugby League?
WM: There are a few options. I don’t want to be one of those rugby league players who go straight in to the media, commentating and reviewing and judging every other player and thinking they are perfect. I have invested in real estate and a few other things that interest me outside of rugby league. I have to start thinking about it over the next couple of years but I could easily leave footy and own a restaurant or a bar or something like that because I like conversing with people. Then perhaps something in the media later on.
@Timm182 via Twitter: Who in the team are you closest with? Do you hang out with any of the boys outside footy? What do you enjoy doing away from footy?
WM: I am pretty tight with most of the guys. There is a great group of blokes at this Club and we do spend a lot of time together outside of training. If we are not hanging out at training, we are hanging out at a café or going out for some lunch or coffee on our day off. We are a pretty tight group at Newcastle these days and everybody loves each others company, which is a good sign with a good team. I still have mates from school that I hang out with here as well.
Lachlan via email: Have you and the team set any goals for this season?
WM: Every team sets goals but we keep those in-house. Everyone wants to win the premiership, that is the ultimate goal. There are little goals you need to reach before you get to the big ones. We have week-to-week goals and we have to use that old cliché of taking it week by week.
Tammy Gibbs via email: Would you ever consider coaching after football?
WM: I would love to give something back and I think I can give something back to the game. Being under such great coaches throughout my career I have taken an interest in the coaches and I like to pick their brain. Especially someone like Wayne, just the way he carries himself. I wouldn’t like to be a head coach but I think a smaller role like a forwards coach I would enjoy. I like to talk to the young kids now and teaching them the lessons I have learned along the way. Again, it would be later on down the track.
@LeighHarper via Twitter: Are you fit enough to play a full game?
WM: I am but it depends on what they want you to do in the team. I played full games at the Roosters and I was nowhere near as effective as I was at the Bulldogs when I was playing 50-60 minutes. You can play 80 and pace yourself, but playing at the intensity I play at would be hard to play for 80 minutes. Not many can and it isn’t’ the way Wayne has played me. Wayne knows what sort of player I am and plays me effectively.
@boy_from_oz via Twitter: Willie, where has been the best club environment you have played at NRL wise?
WM: I have been lucky to play at a number of good clubs. The Bulldogs were special for the premiership we won and all the mates I made there and still hang out with from there. The Roosters were great to me too. At the moment I am really feeling the Knights and the culture we are building at the Knights. We can leave our legacy here and hopefully the next generation of Knights players can continue after Wayne and all of us old dudes are gone.
@dazzsta via Twitter: I thought the forwards were too flat for the opening 25 minutes can you put it down to anything?
WM: I don’t think we were flat for the opening 25 minutes, maybe the first two sets of six, then end of story.
Warren via email: Do you ever think of bringing the afro back?
WM: I get that question all the time, even yesterday I was asked. It has been about 11 years since I had the afro, which shows my age! That question will never go away. I had a bet with Alex McKinnon, who reckons he can grow an afro, so I said ‘I won’t cut my hair if you don’t cut your hair and I will bring my afro back’. He didn’t agree.
@LeighHarper via Twitter: What's biggest difference with WB compared to others?
WM: He understands. I don’t think a lot of coaches can deal with characters or egos and those types of things like Wayne can. He has been coaching since 1987 and he has had every single type of player, character, ego and he knows how to handle them all. That is why he is one of the greats.
Chris via email: Who in the team do you think will step up this year?
WM: After seeing the intent we played with on Monday night, there are a heap! Tyrone Roberts, Jarrod Mullen and Kade Snowden are in for big years. Darius Boyd, I think he had his best Club performances on Monday night. Neville Costigan was good, there just wasn’t a bad player when you look at the team. I also think Kurt Gidley will also be on a mission and everyone else is going to buy into it.
Thanks for all your Knights Insider questions. Next week CEO Matt Gidley will be taking your questions. Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet using the #KnightsInsider hashtag.