RUGBY LEAGUE: The thought of training and playing rugby league saved Malcolm Darkin's life.
It got him out of the Woorabinda rat race and out of a life plagued by drugs and alcohol.
Growing up in an Aboriginal community saw him go through a lot, for some it is too much to handle.
At age 17, something clicked in Darkin - he saw a way out.
"Growing up as a kid in the community is very hard...,” he paused.
"I was mixed up in the wrong crowd, drugs, alcohol, all that bad stuff. It is very difficult to break out of.
"I would look forward to that bad stuff, but I stepped up and made that change.
"League changed my life, I would start to look forward to that and playing. I struggle to think how I would be without it (league).
"Now I have a family to look forward to, as well as footy.”
CHAMPION EFFORT: Emu Park ladies win league grand final.
Now at age 30, Darkin is arguably in the form of his life. The one-time CQ Capra, linked with the Emu Park Emus and has been a cog in the wheel in the club's dramatic rise to the top four.
But for coach Cheyenne Motu, Darkin's off-field efforts have been just as vital as his blistering ones on it.
"He is just a good person, a great player too,” Motu praised.
"He helps out so much with the kids and really mentors our young adults. He helps mould them into men.”
As for his on-field heroics?
"He is a try-scoring machine, he is ridiculous,” Motu said with a chuckle.
"He just knows where the line is. One on one he will beat his man, with a little shrug or burst of speed and he goes through.
"Be it speed or evasion, he gets to the chalk.”
2017 RRL Top Tryscorers
- Malcolm Darkin 20
- Shaun Atkinson 19
- Hayden Doyle 12
- Jamie MInto 12
- Samuel Smith 12
- Byron Hassall 10
- Darcy Davey 9
- Dayn Richards 9
- Dean Allen 9
- Joseph Oakley 9
- Liam Johnson 9
- Ryan Wilson 9
No short of 20 times this year, Darkin has crossed the line, the most in Rockhampton A-grade Rugby League.
It is hard to fathom only a couple of seasons back, Darkin did his ACL. An injury that almost cost him his career.
"Being back after an ACL a few years ago, coming back from that injury and getting back to what I was,” Darkin, who was understudy to Cameron Munster at the Capras, said.
"It was a tough injury to take and it depressed me but I never gave up on my goals.
"Now I'm back I feel like I didn't lose anything. I am so happy with my form.
"It is such a relief, I haven't really lost any speed, well, maybe a little but that's only because I didn't have a proper pre-season.
"I am 30 now but I feel like I am playing like I did at 21.”
Darkin, who was instrumental in Fitzroy Gracemere Sharks glory days of the 2012 title, feels like his current club is on the cusp of a similar run.
With a scattering of Woorabinda talents, Darkin has no doubt about their chances.
The Emus season is on the line when they do battle with Yeppoon Seagulls in the knock-out final this weekend.
It is the battle of the Cap Coast, the competition benchmark verses the new kids on the block. It comes with a little brother verses big brother feel.
"I have strong belief in the team, coming into the club from where they were last year to now, we are going well,” the fullback/centre commented.
"Everyone is on the same page and we know we can knock them off. They've beat us and we beat them with only 12 players for the last 10 minutes.
"We have seven or eight players from Woorie, who I love playing alongside.”
Darkin and his mojo are back, and Rocky Rugby League is better off.