TRENT Merrin is living proof it’s not what is on the outside, but what’s on the inside that truly makes a rugby league champion.
Described by the man himself as “obese” throughout childhood, Merrin’s determination moulded him into the 175-game NRL star we now see charging into opposition defences each week for Penrith.
Now 27 years old, Merrin has won an NRL premiership with his beloved St George Illawarra, represented NSW 13 times and his country three times.
It’s a far cry from the child who was bullied at school for his body shape.
“I was an obese kid growing up and I had to fight so many challenges going through school, getting bullied, picked on for my size,” Merrin told League Life.
“It was always a challenging.”
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Despite the negative comments from kids at school, Merrin harboured a dream to play rugby league professionally.
Not just for any club. He wanted to wear the famous Red V of the Dragons.
But it was a dream that seemed too far fetched for a child of his size.
So his father took it upon himself to train Trent, forcing his son out of bed every morning to do road runs with a garbage bag pulled over him to increase sweat levels.
“My old man was one of my biggest career changers in my life … he planted a seed in my mind at a young age,” Merrin said.
“He used to take me for road runs when I was six or seven. I used to cry every morning, I didn’t know what I was doing it for.
“I used to cry every morning, he would get me up at five every morning to run the streets, I’d put a garbage bag on.
“That’s what I was doing it for, sweat it out.
“When I got to a certain age it started to click — it was around 16 or 17 (years old) — I started setting my own alarm and waking him up and getting him out of bed.
“It was a challenging childhood but it was a great childhood.
“We had some challenging times, I think that’s where I built my character, the way I am today, and a lot of credit goes to my parents for the way they brought me up.”
Even when Merrin started to lose a few kilograms and get into shape, there were obstacles between him and his dream of a professional career.
Again, it was his parents who helped him through.
“At that age you’re faced with so many outside influences to pull you away from your dreams and your goals,” he explained.
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“My father was a Souths trainer back in the day … he saw players come through the grades who should’ve been superstars but drifted tto the wayside because of influences from the outside.
“I’m gifted that I had mum and dad there to help me in that area.
“The biggest challenges I think are away from the field, to set a standard with yourself, to have short term goals firstly to reach.
“I knew the sacrifices I had to make and I had the backing of my parents to help that happen.
“I used to get phone calls at 10 o’clock at night to try to get to hang out with them and have a drink, and I always knew in the back of my head this is where I wanted to be so I had to push that aside.
“It didn’t make (my friends) too happy then but I’m so glad that I did because it made me the person and player I am today.”