Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Former Rugby League forward Keith Mason is living proof of the idea that if you put your mind to something and work hard, your dreams will come true.
Mason stuck by this ideology throughout his career, where he made some pretty great memories.
“I had many memorable moments throughout my Rugby League career, ” Mason told Everything Rugby League.
“At 17 I made my debut for Wakefield, and just two years later when I was 19, I moved over to Australia and played for the Melbourne Storm, where I lived with Cameron Smith and made friends who I still talk to today.
“While I was at the club Craig Bellamy was appointed head coach and helped me develop my game.”
“Just one year after leaving the Storm, I was honoured to win the 2004 Challenge Cup Final with St.Helens which was a huge achievement, especially when you consider how big the tournament is in both England and Australia.”
“2009 was also a big year in my career. I received the Coach’s Player of the Year Award from Nathan Brown while at Huddersfield, which is a massive achievement for a prop. I also got to live out a childhood dream by playing at Wembley Stadium in the Challenge Cup Final, even though we lost.”
During his playing days, Mason also represented Wales on two occasions, and it was while playing for the nation he unknowingly secured one the most significant moves of his career.
”In 2001, I received a phone call the day before Wales were set to face England in a Test match, where I found out I had been called up to play, at the time I was 18.
“It was all on such short notice; I didn’t even get an opportunity to train with the squad. When I got to the hotel, I put my boots on and got ready to play.
“I was worried that if I played for Wales, it would jeopardise my chances of one day playing for England, my country of birth.
“My worries were soon gone when Kel Coslett from St.Helens handed me a letter written by Greg McCallum which confirmed that the prospect of me playing for England one day would not be impacted by representing Wales.
“The game itself was televised on Sky Sports, and I won the man of the match award.
“Later I found out the Melbourne Storm wanted to sign me based off of my performance in that game, so if I had never represented Wales, then the opportunity at the Storm may have never come to fruition.”
“We lost the game against an England side filled with legends, although it was close.
“One highlight was taking the field alongside Kieran Cunningham, who I’d go on to win the Challenge Cup with.”
“I played for Wales once more at the Millenium Stadium against New Zealand in 2002, where I got to play against my club captain Stephen Kearney.”
Since retiring from Rugby League, Mason has partaken in multiple ventures, including to this point a successful acting career.
For a long time, he never intended to pursue acting as a career choice; however, after meeting a Hollywood superstar one night, that would all change.
“After the 2009 Challenge Cup Final, the team and I went back to a bar, and actor Mickey Rourke was there.
“His bodyguard gave me permission to speak to him, and I said ‘Hey Mickey, how are you?’, he replied, ‘Are you an athlete, are you a gangster?’
“Later in the night, Mickey told his bodyguard with tears in his eyes that I reminded him of his Joey, who had unfortunately passed away after a battle with lung cancer.
“We clicked that night, and he ended up giving me his phone number.”
“Not too long after Mickey invited me to the GQ Awards as his guest. Following the event, I went back to his hotel with him and Jason Statham; we had a great night.
“In 2013, I was playing for Castleford, and during the year Mickey rang me and asked me to play the role of Mr Steiner in the film Skin Traffik which he starred in.
“I had no acting experience at all, but I showed up in a blue suit with a red tie that Mickey liked, learnt my lines and did a good job.
“For that one day’s work, Mickey was paid a quarter of one million pounds. This made me start to consider acting as a career choice post-Rugby League.
“Mickey Rourke believed in me and gave me the vision of what I was going to do after retiring.”
Following a tough time in his life after retiring, Mason has excelled in multiple aspects of film, including acting, producing and writing.
“Immediately after retiring, I went through a rough patch and suffered from depression; however, acting helped me pull through, now I’m writing and producing as well as acting.
“I’ve recently produced a film titled Imperative that will be coming out in 2021, where I play a detective who hunts down a vigilante serial killer.
“We are thinking of turning it into an episodic series, possibly for a streaming service.
“Currently I’m working on the sequel titled Galvanized.”
The 38-year-old’s biggest claim to fame is quite possibly ”Rugby Blood”, his graphic novel about a Rugby League star with a twist.
Interest in the Rugby Blood was pretty much instant, as Mason was offered investment in the project early on.
”Rugby Blood started as a film script, which I had sent to Pinewood Studios through a friend.
“I wasn’t expecting a response but was soon contacted and asked to come in for a meeting with producer Deborah Wootton. She told me the studio was willing to invest two million pounds into the project, which was astonishing to me, as for many, it can take years to have a studio invest in their script.”
“I soon realised that there weren’t any graphic novels about Rugby League players, so the protagonist is a Rugby League player named David King, who is also an entrepreneur.
“Throughout the novel, his wife is kidnapped, and he must take out those responsible one by one.
“In a sense, King’s origin story is almost my autobiography.
“Growing up, I had a rough childhood and nearly went to jail, before turning my life around at 14.
“He finds himself in a very similar situation to what I was in at the beginning of the graphic novel.
“It is a story about overcoming disadvantages and never giving in.”
“Rugby Blood also features multiple NRL and Super League stars who were more than happy to allow us to use their likeness in the story.
“I also got in contact with Super League CEO Robert Elston, and soon enough the book was endorsed by the league.
“Not long after, I was contacted by O’Neills Sport who is currently with the Penrith Panthers and Newcastle Knights who wanted to produce the Rugby Blood shirts and merchandise.
“This all occurred within six months.”
“The Rugby Blood brand is still growing. We have facemasks coming out next week, and are looking at turning the book into an Anime and maybe even a television show.
“Within the next couple of months, the first five pages of Rugby Blood’s next edition will be released in a subscriber-based system, where more pages will become available monthly.”
On top of all these fantastic achievements, Mason still finds the time to run ”Project Mason CBD”.
The brand provides a variety of products to improve the lives of consumers and promote healthy living.
Project Mason has partnered up with multiple Super League stars, including England International Daryl Clark.
He has also dealt with some family issues over the past few years.
In 2015, Mason’s fiancée Riona Kelly was paralysed after suffering a spinal stroke.
The pair have not given up though; Kelly has been training with Mason in the gym, which has assisted her in slowly regaining the ability to walk when she was informed it would be impossible.
Keith Mason is a man who time and time again has hit roadblocks in his life but has found a way to overcome them.
He did this by sticking to his moto.
“No sacrifice, no glory, we rise by lifting others.”
Follow Keith Mason on his Instagram here.