Rugby league can bank on Cam Murray
Budding back-row star Cameron Murray is not your average rugby league star - and that could be exactly why he's the star that rugby league needs.
Blake Solly has been South Sydney chief executive for the past three years and spent the two years before that running the English Super League. But he had never experienced anything like Blues back-rower Cameron Murray's call to help in April last year.
"Cameron came to us and said 'I hadn't had an interview for some time - if ever'," Solly said.
"He asked us to interview him as part of an internship he was going for. I've never had a player wanting to do that before. There have been players who have wanted to prepare themselves for life after rugby league but not to go to those lengths to go do a mock job interview."
Murray was just 20 when he confronted a situation most of his teammates would dread - a boardroom full of high-powered club bosses.
But he wanted to impress as he looked to become the first rugby league player to earn a scholarship with Macquarie Bank.
Solly was joined by South Sydney's head of football Shane Richardson and head of football operations Brock Schaefer in the hour-long grilling.
"We did a bit of research on Macquarie Bank and what the internship program was for," Solly said. "We went in and tried to ask him the tough questions and treat it exactly like the interview next day.
"The last question I asked him was 'we've never had a rugby league player be considered for this. There is a reputation in parts of the community about the behaviour of rugby league players. Why should we take a risk with a rugby league player'?
"His answer was brilliant. He talked about four different stages of his life particularly about a misconception about him at Newington and being a rugby league player. He worked hard about changing people's perception and showing the stereotype wasn't accurate.
"I remember thinking after he finished the answer how I wished I'd been that intelligent and articulate at 20. He is clearly a really intelligent and sensible young man."
Murray is the first NRL player to receive a scholarship through the Macquarie Sports Foundation. It gives him access to mentors for a decade and an opportunity to work for the company where his schedule fits - particularly in the off-season.
On the field he has emerged as an unflappable budding superstar. But Murray said the mock interview "rattled" him.
"Of the things which stood out for me in going for the position is if I was to get it I would be the first rugby league player to get it," Murray said.
"It was a really good afternoon. I look back now and I see that afternoon really developed me off the field.
"I'm a better person for it."
The Newington College-educated Murray said a lack of awareness of rugby league players to further their futures during their career and players being labelled in a certain way had stopped someone else from being the first NRL player to secure the scholarship.
Murray has heard all the barbs about rugby league players.
"It's easy to develop a pretty grim stereotype of what rugby league is," Murray said. "There is a lot of recent news which doesn't speak too highly of rugby league.
"It's been in my nature since I went Newington that I have always tried to paint a better picture of rugby league.
"I try and lead by example. It's hard not to be really. I'm living the dream.
"I don't want to preach about someone I'm not. There are moments where I catch myself not being the person I want to be and making a few mistakes but that's part of growing as a person who lives their life through a lot of the media eyes. It's all a learning curve."