You make your own luck.
That’s what Mark Hughes believes.
After hearing his story, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
As a teen, a young Hughes dreamed of pulling on the red and blue for Newcastle and many thought that’s all it would be. A dream.
But playing first grade for Kurri Kurri in 1995, Hughes showed his ability and was able to secure a deal with the Knights.
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“I aspired to play for the Knights but I faced a lot of struggle for a long time,” Hughes told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
“I wasn’t big enough, quick enough, all those traits that I just didn’t have but I kept plugging away at Kurri and my luck changed.
“I played my first year in grade for Kurri and we won the premiership, it was Kurri’s third premiership in a row. I played on the wing and managed to score two tries and that spring boarded me for a trial for the Knights 21s.
“In 1996 I played under 21s and had a good solid season.”
Yet, despite impressing for the Knights, Hughes was overlooked for a deal the following year.
He refused to accept it.
“I remember the news came on in November 96, I was at home and it was ‘the Newcastle Knights start their 1997 campaign’ and I wasn’t at training which was a bit of a worry,” he explained.
“I made some calls and said; ‘I thought I was going to get a trial with Reserve Grade’.
“Your luck can turn really quickly in life… from watching the first training session at home in my lounge room, to eventually winning a premiership.
“A lot of hard work went to getting to that point but you make your own luck a little bit.
“My 12th first grade game was a grand final win.”
After securing a train and trial deal, Hughes ripped in.
With an ability to play wing, centre or fullback, the local product proved his worth.
But there were no bells and whistles when the time come to sign his deal.
“Just before the season kicked off, I went in the big shipping container,” he recalled.
“I signed a $5000 contract for that season in the shipping container. There was no luxury offices or manager next to me. Just me signing in a shipping container.
“I signed the contract and felt pretty good about it and kicked off in reserve grade and played some good solid footy and then as the season went on, injuries and a bit of luck, trickled my way into first grade.”