Tyler Randell has compared the intense nervousness and anticipation felt on the morning of his wedding to that of how he feels before a big game.
“I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t eat all day, I was nervous and I couldn’t sit still,” the Newcastle Knight admits.
“The wedding day was similar to a game day with how nervous I was. It felt like I was going to play a game.”
However, the nerves soon dissipated when the 22-year-old stood beside his soon-to-be wife, Kelsey at a relaxed and laidback ceremony in the off season.
The pair first met in Cessnock through mutual friends and Kelsey accepted his wedding proposal during a holiday in Port Macquarie just over a year ago.
Twelve months on, the couple walked down the aisle in Woodville near Maitland and followed up the intimate, family-orientated wedding ceremony with a week’s honeymoon in Malaysia.
Rewind a few weeks and Randell was experiencing the same nerves before running out for the NSW Cup grand final against the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium.
The Aberdeen Tigers junior played an integral part in reserve grade’s surge to the premiership decider.
“It was a very exciting time and the wedding definitely snuck up on us,” he said.
Watching on as they tied the knot was NSW Cup teammate Chad Redman who Randell has played footy with since he was a young teenager.
“Chad and I have known each other since I was 14 and I lived with Chad for a while, so it was good to have people that I’ve known for a long time there,” he said.
Watching on also as flowergirl was the couple's two-and-a-half year old daughter, Lucia.
“I think we’ve ticked everything off with a daughter, a house, got married and we have a dog, so I don’t think there’s much else to do,” he says with a grin.
The Scone bred utility has also been ticking boxes on the football field, which included his NRL debut against the Parramatta Eels in Round 25 at Hunter Stadium.
“This year with footy, I thought it was probably my biggest year in rugby league,” he said.
“So hopefully next year, I can keep that going.
“I’m out of contract after next year, but I definitely don’t want to go anywhere else.
“I want to step up, I don’t just want to be a reserve grade player every year.
“I want to put my foot down, train hard and stay injury free and make more of an impact in first grade.”
One of Randell’s major motivators to reach his aspirations is his young family and credits his girls for advancing his career.
“With Kelsey and Lucia, I have something to go home to, whereas it’s not just football, I can go home and relax,” he said.
“With the year I had, I probably wouldn’t have done it without the two.
“I have a good support base with them.”
It hasn't always been smooth sailing however. You see, Kelsey comes from a soccer-loving family.
“She didn’t come to her first rugby league game until we met,” he said
“I think she only comes to support me, I don’t think she comes because she likes football.”
Kelsey was watching on with Lucia when Randell copped a head clash in the second half of his debut that resulted in a hefty gash that required a number of stitches.
“I think the excitement of debuting took away from the injury to my eye,” he assured.
“I had Kelsey and Lucia with me over at the doctors when I was getting stitched; Lucia was running around me and bumping into me.”
Fatherhood has changed the young footballer and it is something he treasures most of all.
“You have a responsibility and you don’t want to let her down,” he said.
“It’s the best thing ever when you wake up every morning and you have a daughter and a wife."
With an added incentive to make his young family proud, Randell says his goals for 2015 are to play a more first grade games, train hard and play consistently.
In fact, he’s already feeling positive about his start to the season under newly appointed head coach, Rick Stone.
“Rick has been my reserve grade coach for two years and I feel like we get along well, he’s easy to approach, easy to talk to and knows when to have a joke and a bit of fun, but when it’s serious, it’s serious,” he added.
“He’s a really good people-person and as a rugby league coach I think you need that.”
A major challenge Randell has embraced is his new hooking role, in particular working under the expertise of Knights legend, Danny Buderus.
“I haven’t really done a full pre-season as a hooker, because I’ve played in a few different positions, but to have Danny teaching, he’s one of the best to learn off,” he said.
“It’s been good just trying to listen and practice what he’s been showing us and hopefully I can take it and use it.
“I’m definitely still learning as I haven’t played a full year there, I’ve played a full year in the halves, a heap of back row, so hooker’s probably the only place I haven’t played a lot at.
“I’m going to give hooker a good shot, but still use my utility as an advantage as well.”