Ben Roarty spent eight years at rugby league’s highest level but it was in retirement that he faced his toughest test.
The bustling prop played 94 games for Storm during those three inaugural years, including the 1999 premiership.
After a stint with the Penrith and five seasons in the UK Super League retirement came calling in 2006.
Wondering what life would hold for him from then on, a quick google search solved his worries.
“I was in England and just googled outdoor and fitness and a franchise came up to do personal training so I bought that business,” Roarty said.
He stayed in the health and fitness industry for the next four years whilst also juggling a second job as a youth worker.
Then a sudden career came his way. Roarty swapped the gym for the prison system, taking on a role as a corrections officer.
He worked in the prison system for five years before a workplace accident changed his life.
“I did that for five years but in the last year I had a workplace accident while I was supervising some criminals,” Roarty said.
“I have spent the last year on workers compensation because I’ve been suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) for the last 12 months.”
“I am one of those people who you think is alright all of the time, a happy go lucky fella but I actually had PTSD.
“I’m good now, I’ve got a new job but I just can’t work in the prison service any more.”
Times do not get much tougher than what the 42-year-old has had to experience recently however life is well and truly back on track.
He enjoys every minute of his new profession, working with CUA School Fun-Runs, driving around to primary schools and helping to organise fun and colour runs.
Roarty still lives in Victoria, with his wife Sonia (a former Storm cheerleader) and their two sons Brayden 12 and Kai 4.
Several years ago he and Sonia made the decision to swap their Southbank apartment for a couple of acres of land in the Hidden Valley.
That change of scenery has allowed Roarty to be closer to his passions; camping, fishing and four wheel driving.
Does he miss his playing days?
Initially he says ‘yes’ but the opportunity to live a normal life and everything that comes with it means he has been happy to leave his rugby league career in the rear view mirror.
“It was like a burden being taken off my shoulders in a way, not being tied down every week,” Roarty said.
“I made a conscious decision in 2010 to give up rugby league all together and focus on my kids, family, fishing and four-wheel-driving.
“Most weekends people head to the city to go to the games, I head to the bush to go camping.
“Long weekends and school holidays mean nothing to a rugby league player.
“In the public your hear that players get paid too much but those people are paying to see them play on ANZAC Day, on long weekends and the poor old players have no time off do they?”
Roarty still attends around two Storm games each season and looks forward to the Old Boys weekend whenever it comes around.
The experience of watching his former side run around now is a lot more enjoyable than it was 10 years ago.
“I remember going to Storm games when I came back after retiring and just sitting there with my hands on my chin,” Roarty said.
“It took probably two or three years to sink in that I was retired. You are always trying to think about comebacks.
“There is a lot of talk these days about players going through mental health issues when they do retire but because I had my own business and I was busy it was not as difficult for me as for some other people.
“I was ready to retire a year before I did so I transitioned okay luckily.”