The former Newcastle Knights and Blues State of Origin playmaker is on track to complete one of the greatest comebacks in rugby league history.
The former Newcastle Knights and Blues State of Origin playmaker is on track to complete one of the greatest comebacks in rugby league history.

Banned footballer's shock bid for NRL comeback

Banned NRL star Jarrod Mullen has applied to make a shock comeback next season when his four-year drug suspension expires in January.

Mullen is determined to inspire youngsters to learn from serious mistakes and prove life can get back to normal.

However, the NRL won't consider his application until a correctional order of 300 hours of community service has been served, after Mullen was sentenced for supplying cocaine in February.

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Jarrod Mullen is just months away from serving his four-year ban. Picture: Tony Feder/Getty
Jarrod Mullen is just months away from serving his four-year ban. Picture: Tony Feder/Getty

Mullen believes he can play for another two seasons and will look for an opportunity in the UK Super League if there is no interest among the 16 NRL clubs.

He hopes to complete the community service by January.

The 33-year-old former Newcastle Knights and Blues State of Origin halfback was once a million-dollar player and tipped to be the next Andrew Johns.

He debuted for the Knights at 18 in 2005 and the Blues at 20, and captained his club during their last finals campaign in 2013.

But his life began to spiral out of control when he was banned for four years for delivering a positive result to banned steroid drostanolone following a routine test at pre-season training in November 2016.

 

He claimed the drug was used to help recovery from serious hamstring injuries, not to gain a competitive edge.

Mullen then battled mental health issues and a serious drug addiction and almost died from an overdose at a party in December 2018.

He was arrested, charged and pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine in 2019 as part of a drug syndicate in Newcastle.

Mullen suffered physical effects from his cocaine use, including hearing loss and ringing in his ears.

The NRL is likely to look at Mullen's application favourably.

His case is similar to former Knights, Dragons and Eels star Danny Wicks who went to jail for drug trafficking in 2011.

He rehabilitated and made an inspiring comeback for the Eels.

Jarrod Mullen was sentenced to 300 hours of community service for his role in a Newcastle drug syndicate. Picture: AAP/Dean Lewins
Jarrod Mullen was sentenced to 300 hours of community service for his role in a Newcastle drug syndicate. Picture: AAP/Dean Lewins

 

In court in February, his defence lawyer Paul McGirr said Mullen's fall from grace was an "extremely sad situation".

"He was one of Newcastle's favourite sons. He now doesn't even want to return to the area," McGirr said.

"He still is keen to get back into rugby league, and at 32 years of age he has his work cut out for him."

McGirr said Mullen had dealt with issues including ADHD, depression and anxiety.

"In relation to rugby league players, how quickly they can be forgotten when they're injured and out of the game," McGirr said after the court hearing.

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"I'm putting the question to the NRL, that they should look to make sure people either have trades or some form of education after they finish the game, because the longevity of a player is less than five years."

In sparing him from a custodial sentence, Magistrate Jillian Kiely noted Mullen had attempted to rehabilitate himself, including attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings and seeing a psychologist.

Mullen and his manager Steve Gillis declined to comment.

Originally published as Banned Knights star's shock bid for NRL comeback


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