SEAMUS King-Smith was due for a bit of good fortune.
Crippled by injuries over the last four years, the rising rugby league star has barely been on the paddock.
If you asked him a couple of years ago where he’d like to be on his 21st birthday, the answer might have been: on an NRL list.
But that dream is far from dead and buried after the Weipa junior was able to step out onto the field for the Northern Pride on Saturday, starting at fullback in his Hostplus Cup debut.
It was a day after he turned 21 and the 34-24 win turned out to be the perfect birthday present.
“It was a great week, really. To get that win was probably the icing on the cake,” King-Smith said on Monday.
“I found out I was playing on Wednesday, I think, and the boys were quick to get around me which was great.”
A talented rugby union player at Ipswich Grammar School, the Cape York product was picked up by the Melbourne Storm at the end of 2021 as part of the club’s First Nations Pathway Program.
But King-Smith’s bad luck with injury – two shoulder reconstructions in two years while at high school – continued in Victoria.
“I had a bulging disc in my back and I couldn’t get it right,” he said.
“I spent most of my time in there in rehab.”
There’s no doubt it was tough on King-Smith, who was trying to fit in with the group while on the sidelines.
“Melbourne were really good to me and I had my family to support me. Sometimes you can feel a bit lonely but you can’t let it get to you.”
Late last year, he made the decision to sign with the Pride, joining his brother Denzel King in the squad that’s administered by his dad, Garreth Smith, the club’s CEO.
A strong pre-season had him tracking for a debut in round one until he tweaked his back again in a trial match.
He saw a specialist and ended up going under the knife to fix the problem – not a common operation for someone his age.
Again, he put the work in to get back on the park and was able to play in the Pride’s Colts team a week before the club flew to Weipa for its Country Round game.
While accepting the decision of coach Ty Williams, the young gun admitted he was desperate to play in front of his home crowd at Andoom Oval.
“Of course I wanted to play. I mean how many chances will there be to play (at Weipa)? But that’s just rugby league.”
A bye following the game meant he celebrated his 21st with mates that weekend, so that footy wouldn’t get in the way.
One player’s misfortune gave King-Smith the opening to debut after Julian Christian found himself sidelined for three weeks through suspension.
Despite playing most of his rugby league in the halves, the coach was happy to throw him straight into the #1 jersey.
“I’ve played a bit of fullback in union but not much at all in league,” King-Smith said.
“I thought I got better as the game went on.
“Hopefully I’ve done enough to keep my spot.”