Where are they now – Brett Finch
You would be hard pressed to find a former Storm player as endearing as Brett Finch.
Finch played 14 seasons in the NRL, the final three of those with the Melbourne Storm. There was also a stint overseas with Wigan before he returned to Melbourne for his swansong in 2013.
The likeable larrikin can now be seen on Fox Sports as a commentator.
While he may wear a suit instead of playing kit to the ground these days, he is enjoying every minute of his new role, even if it wasn’t exactly his first choice.
Finch had originally planned to go into coaching once he retired, until Channel Nine offered him a role for the 2014 season and he never looked back.
“I was always comfortable with the media and had done stuff with the media over the years but I wanted to get into coaching originally,” Finch said.
“That was what I first loved, to stay involved with the Club especially down in Melbourne.
“Whether or not I do this (media) for the rest of my life or whether I go back to coaching I don’t know. I certainly enjoy it, it keeps me involved in the game.
“I still get to go out to the footy and catch up with all the boys. It is a great job and I really enjoy it.”
Finch says that rugby league has shaped his life from day one.
His father Robert has played seven seasons for St George during the 70s before coaching lower grades at the Newcastle Knights.
Brett grew up in rugby league locker rooms before making his first grade debut at just 17 years of age.
The game means the world to him.
“It is all I’ve ever known,” Finch said.
“I started playing first grade when I was in high school. It is all I’ve ever done.
“I’ve spent 32 years of my life in it. I’m not playing anymore so there are other things in life I am looking to explore but it will always be a huge part of my life.”
The flip side is that once retirement comes calling it can be very hard to deal with.
Finch has previously spoken about the difficulties he had in adjusting to life after football.
It is a struggle that never quite goes away however he is certainly in a better place with it these days.
“It is hard to describe… I never had a girlfriend during my career, my family wasn’t here so it was like the loss of a marriage or a death in the family when I retired,” Finch said.
“My whole life was based around the game, I grew up in the change rooms. They were like my brothers. You would spend all day with them and then you would be going out on weekends together.
“When you retire your job is not there, your teammates are not there. There was a real void, a real lack of direction and loss of motivation.
“A couple of Storm games I have done this year, going down to the sheds after a victory, that is a feeling you are never going to get again in life. I am better with it now, as time goes on it is a lot easier. It is something the players association is doing well at addressing more.
“There are a lot of former players and a lot of sports starts in general who struggle when it all comes to an end.”
While objectivity is key when you work in the media, purple pride still runs deep for the 36-year-old.
Finch played 54 games for Melbourne between 2009-10 and also in 2013.
Before that he spent four seasons with each of the Raiders and Roosters and another three with the Eels but it is those Storm days that he still holds dear to him.
“I just feel lucky that I’ve got a bond, especially with Storm,” Finch said.
“I always feel welcome when I go back, I am still very close to a lot of players. Will Chambers is one of my best mates, I still speak to Smithy, Coops, Bill and a lot of the other boys.
“I still certainly feel a part of the Club in some way because of my time down there.”