Sidelined Rooster Luke Keary holds no fear of retirement, declaring his readiness for a post-NRL career if it all ended tomorrow.
The Australian and NSW representative is bullish about his long-term prospects which look even brighter after completing a Bachelor of Business (Administration) at Australian Catholic University.
Keary insists he has at least three more years in the tank to add to his playing achievements and continue juggling the work-life balance that this year grew with the addition of baby Brodie, a brother to Hudson, two.
In the months since Brodie’s birth, Keary’s Roosters teammate Jake Friend and Cowboys rival Michael Morgan retired prematurely due to chronic injuries. And the future of Roosters captain Boyd Cordner remains clouded after his repeated concussions.
That hasn’t spooked Keary the slightest as he plans to shoehorn a sequence of corporate internships alongside parenting duties and injury rehabilitation on his reconstructed knee for the rest of this year.
“It gives me peace of mind knowing I’ve put the uni work in over my playing career. I’m confident I’ve got something to fall back on,” the 29-year-old said.
“I’m good mates with Jake (Friend). I’m not worried about him because he’s got three or four businesses going outside footy. He’s sorted.
“If my career finished next year at 30, I’d feel comfortable where I’m at education-wise. I just need my experience to marry up.”
Keary has been a member of ACU’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program since commencing study and is on the right track according to athlete welfare and development expert Matthew Pink.
The playmaker was last year one of 93 contracted NRL players who had completed or were studying for university degrees. Seven had commenced Masters courses.
Dr Pink, who received his doctorate from ACU in athlete dual career and holistic development, believes prepared, well-rounded and resourceful footballers should be optimistic about post-football careers.
“Experiencing different life roles helps us learn about who we are as people,” Dr Pink said.
“For some, given the intense focus on sport when you’re at your peak, they don’t always have the variety of opportunities that many of us have. They become too singular in their identity.
“Many of us are partners, parents, workers who have hobbies and interests outside of our jobs. Those different domains protect us from having a negative experience in one of the other domains. For example, deselection or sudden retirement.”
Keary has commenced rehabilitation from his season-ending knee injury. He is aware how quickly footy can move on, which is why he has organised internship blocks to sample a string of off-field roles in a variety of industries to discover which is the best career fit for him and his young family.
“I want to study more but I think I need to go out now and get some experience,” he said.
“A lot of the attributes footballers have are transferable.
“We work on a project all year to try to win a grand final. That’s similar to setting up a team to achieve a work objective.
“Our target is once a year. In business, you’re doing it multiple times a year.”