Roosters discard earns Marsters degree in perseverance
By James Buckley
6 April 2018 — 3:40pm
Esan Marsters thought his NRL dream was over.
On the same day his mum moved to Sydney from Auckland to help support her son’s rugby league ambitions, Marsters had received the news no young player wants to hear.
“I got cut from the Roosters SG ball side train-on squad,” Marsters said.
"My mum flew over from New Zealand on the same day I got cut. It was pretty heartbreaking for me.
“It definitely was one of the hardest things I had to tell her. I thought I failed, as an 18-year-old kid living in another country. I had the drive from that point on to tell myself I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me that I couldn’t play footy, or that I couldn’t play first grade.”
Marsters left it all behind in Auckland to pursue his rugby league career at just 17 years of age, moving away from his parents and 10 brothers and sisters to join the Roosters.
He had a clear pathway mapped out in his head – play SG Ball, graduate into the under-20s, earn a chance at playing in the NSW Cup and finally prove his wares as an NRL player.
When the Roosters let him go, he could have simply moved back to Auckland and chosen another career path, but that would have betrayed his yearning drive to succeed.
Year 12 came and went and Marsters didn’t even have a club, but his commitment never wavered and at the end of the year he was invited to trial with the Wests Tigers.
To say Marsters grabbed the opportunity would be understating just how big a mark he left on Tigers recruiters that day.
“I’m not bragging, but I think I scored like three tries,” Marsters said.
"They offered me a contract to play 20s here for two years. I’m not saying it was the best contract, but I was still grateful for what I got.
“I didn’t really play for the money that time, I just wanted to have a crack playing 20s. It was a shot that I had, so I just took the opportunity and ran with it.”
The 21-year-old is now 17 games into an NRL career that boasts a huge amount of promise.
He’s scored five tries at the top level, but it’s his ability to dish them off to teammates which has helped Marsters establish himself as a key cog in Ivan Cleary’s backline.
Against Parramatta on Monday, Marsters threw the final pass on three occasions, setting up Corey Thompson for his double and also helping Robbie Rochow over the line.
Marsters showed glimpses of his ability in 2017, but he seems to have gone to another level this year after Cleary’s first preseason at the club and the injection of Tigers legend Benji Marshall into the side.
“Having someone like that at the club is a massive help to my game,” Marsters said.
"Playing outside him is something special because he can do something out of nothing. He just tells me what to do and just helps me out with my game.
“Someone like him, like a legend back at the club, is a massive boost for the team and as a club as well, a lot of fans will come to the games and watch someone like him play.”
This weekend Marsters has another huge opportunity. Saturday’s clash against the Melbourne Storm as part of an Auckland double header gives him the chance to show his large family just how far he’s come since making the ultimate sacrifice and leaving the city four years ago.
“I left my mum and my brothers and sisters, my dad … I was pretty homesick sometimes. In a way, I got over it,” Marsters said.
"I had the desire to play footy. It’s something I enjoy, it’s something I love doing in my spare time. It’s all pretty surreal that I can do that now, just play footy.
“I didn’t really think I’d probably play NRL, but I definitely had the drive to try and make an NRL career out of myself.”