RUGBY LEAGUE: Bunnings was flooded by a sea of future rugby league stars on Thursday as they got a rare chance to meet Parramatta Eels legend Nathan Hindmarsh.

The mop-haired miracle from Bowral played more than 300 first-grade games for the Eels over a career that spanned 14 years at the top.

He was ready to divulge his knowledge gained over those years with the league-loving kids of Grafton, while supporting the South Grafton Rebels to raise funds on the barbecue.

It was a visit spurred by Hindmarsh's connection with Bunnings Australia but also gave the league legend a rare insight into life in Grafton.

"I do a fair bit for Bunnings around the Sydney area but I also love getting out to communities like Grafton, meeting all the locals and have a ball," he said.

"It is something new for everyone. Instead of having the same old thing every day, I can hopefully be something a bit exciting for everyone.

"I love seeing parts of the world I don't get to often."

Nathan Hindmarsh gathers with Bunnings staff and kids who caem out to see him at a visit to Bunnings
Nathan Hindmarsh gathers with Bunnings staff and kids who caem out to see him at a visit to Bunnings Adam Hourigan

More than 100 aspiring juniors visited the Grafton store to meet Hindmarsh and get everything from footballs and jerseys to collector cards autographed. One excited fan even turned up with a framed portrait of Hindmarsh in his glory days, something that truly humbled the retired star.

"I suppose it does excite me still seeing the kids coming out to meet me," he said.

"I know a lot of them probably don't know me but they know the game and that's the important thing.

"Their mums and dads probably tell them who I am and they get on the Google and YouTube and look me up but it is great. That comes with the territory of retiring.

"The grandmothers remember me at least - well, the backside of me."

Hindmarsh retired from the top level six years ago having represented NSW 17 times in State of Origin and pulling on the green and gold for Australia 23 times.

But it has not stopped his involvement, with a regular hosting role on The Matty Johns Show on Fox League as well as coaching roles with NSW and Parramatta.

"I don't think it ever leaves you," he said.

"I am fortunate to work on Fox League with some awesome people as well as with NSW rugby league and little bits with Parramatta.

"This is all I did for 15 years and I am fortunate enough that I can still be a part of it."

 

Nathan Hindmarsh gathers with South Grafton Rugby league players at his Bunnings Visit.
Nathan Hindmarsh gathers with South Grafton Rugby league players at his Bunnings Visit. Adam Hourigan

But while many former league stars are strapping the boots back on in the bush, like Todd Carney at Byron Bay and Danny Wicks at Grafton, Hindmarsh said that ship had well and truly sailed.

"I actually laced the boots on for my junior club, the Moss Vale Dragons, down in the Southern Highlands a few years back," he said.

"I had all intentions to get at least one good season under the belt for them, I got through one game and realised it wasn't for me. I had a great time doing it but I just had too many commitments in Sydney to get down every week."

Hindmarsh will return to the Clarence Valley on Monday as part of his role as a Club-SAFE NSW ambassador to do health and well-being talks at Acmena and Cranes Community Centre.

The talks will focus on problems with gambling, an issue that is very close his heart.

"It was a bit of an issue early in my career and something that took me a long time to overcome but now I get to share my story and hopefully help other people," he said.

"I want to explain to young blokes coming into adulthood, that if you are going to have a bit of a punt, do it responsibly and if you feel it is getting too much know you can reach out for help."



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