The Daily Examiner

Football mates buy Great northern

WE KNOW they can perform on the footy field and now they're putting that same determination into the hotel industry.

Magpies rugby league star Matt Michael and Rhinos star forward Xavier Sullivan have, along with their better halves Kellie Stevens and Clair Sullivan, bought the Great Northern Hotel in South Grafton.

The two men have known each other since they were teenagers. They have been close mates for at least 10 years.

It was that mateship - and Matt's years of experience in the hotel industry - that saw the boys take the plunge.

“I've been working in pubs and clubs all my life, I've loved it,” Matt said.

“It's a funny thing. I was working at the South Grafton PO (Post Office Hotel) and looked over to the Northern one day and noticed the doors were closed.

“The week before, Xavier and I said we'd be great partners in a pub and it just went from there.”

Xavier, who until recently had been working as a pipe layer, also had a working history in the hotel industry.

“I did a lot of security work down in Sydney, around Manly and the Cross, and it really appealed to me,” Xavier said.

“In time, we want to build the pub up and utilise this big back bar and the beer garden and bring entertainment back to South Grafton, and give people a safe environment to come and enjoy themselves.”

Business partners they may be, but Matt and Xavier are still sparring partners on the field.

“I'm sure there will still be a fair few head-highs (tackles) and a bit of cheek,” Matt said.

“We're pretty brutal on each other actually.”

Xavier had a similar take.

“Matt and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship, especially with football. It's always good to get one over him. Nothing's going to change now,” he said.

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