I thought my career was over: Cherrington

The world was a very different place back in 2009. 

Movie-goers who hadn't read the Harry Potter books were mortified when Severus Snape slew Albus Dumbledore atop the Astronomy Tower, Kevin Rudd was enjoying his first term as Prime Minister and iPhones could still fit inside pockets. 

‌Back then, Anthony Cherrington was the 'next big thing' destined to take the rugby league world by storm. 

Instead injuries crippled the promising back-rower, limiting Cherrington to just 19 games in 2008 and 2009 with his knees eventually giving way over the next few years in a cruel blow for the teen prodigy.    

Opportunities arose at the Panthers but nothing ever eventuated so Cherrington packed up his bags and moved to Queensland's Sunshine Coast where he could be closer to his kids. 

The 29-year-old settled down and spent a couple of seasons with the Redcliffe Dolphins where he was named best and fairest for his exploits in the back row. 

Thinking his NRL days were over, Cherrington travelled down to Sydney for a job interview with Qantas and received the shock of his life when Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire contacted him for the opportunity of a lifetime.  

"Honestly, I thought I was going to retire in Redcliffe," he said. 

"I just found the love of the game again. I think going up there, the rugby league competition up there is very tough and it just suited my style of footy. I think it brought the love of footy out for me again.

"My kids live in Marcoola up on the Sunshine Coast. I decided to head up there to follow them. I got a contract with Redcliffe Dolphins and I was doing a bit of part-time work there and doing a bit of training with the Broncos every once in a while. 

"I came down here for a job interview with Qantas and then Michael Maguire gave me a message to come to the club and have a meeting, and then I signed a one-year deal. It's been a good journey for me – I'm stoked and I'm very honoured to be at South Sydney at the moment." 

With his Qantas career on hold – probably a good thing given his partner works for Virgin – Cherrington knuckled down in reserve grade and was rewarded with a bench spot for last week's trip to Townsville.

It was a mixed night as the Bunnies fell to the Cowboys, but for Cherrington, it was a return to the footy field eight years in the making.

He looked solid with 65 metres and 16 tackles but admitted to being caught out by the speed of the game which saw him miss a one-on-one tackle on Shaun Fensom that led to a try. 

Fitness is something that will come with more game time, and according to Cherrington, South Sydney is the perfect club to make that happen.  

"I've got to be honest, it's probably the best club I've been to. It's been the most welcoming out of all the clubs I've been to," he said. 

"Most of the guys in the team are locals just like me so it always makes it easier for a new face to come into when it feels like home. 

"The pace of the game is a lot faster than what I'm used to. It will take me probably a couple of weeks to get used to it. 

"It's changed heaps [compared to 2009]. Obviously back then guys were a lot bigger and taller, but a lot slower, and these days the pace is a lot faster so you've got to be quick to keep up with the play. 

"If you saw me around 20 minutes you would've seen how tired I was. That's testament to how good the competition is in 2017."

Video first featured at rabbitohs.com.au