Twelve months after knocking back a career in the Air Force to pursue his NRL dream Titans forward Tom Kingston has decided to quit his career in rugby league to join the Australian Army.
A Tweed Heads junior who was a member of the Titans’ inaugural under-20s squad in 2008, Kingston had to wait until Round 17 this year to make his NRL debut at the age of 26 and after six encouraging displays was signed to a one-year contract extension for 2015.
But as the majority of Gold Coast players returned for pre-season training this week, Kingston made the tough call on his career, relinquishing a one-year contract and changing his uniform from blue, white and yellow to khaki.
He has been training with the Titans squad this week to keep up his fitness levels but next week he leaves for new lifestyle and profession with no regrets after this season showing he was not out of place in the NRL, playing a part in three wins in the second half of the season – against Newcastle and grand finalists South Sydney and Canterbury – in his six appearances.
“I sat down when the season finished and thought hard about whether I wanted to try to cement a position in the NRL or pursue the things I want to accomplish in the Army, which is more a long-term goal I’d been considering for a while,” Kingston told Titans Media.
“An opportunity came along with the Army which appealed to me so I made the tough decision to go that way now rather than putting it back.
“I was really happy to make my NRL debut this year and tick that off my bucket list. I will always be grateful the Titans gave me that opportunity.
“I’ve loved playing rugby league but I’m happy with the decision I’ve made.”
Kingston’s final match for the Titans was a memorable one, sharing in a thrilling 19-18 win over the Bulldogs that also marked the end of the Gold Coast careers for Mark Minichiello, Cody Nelson and Brad Takairangi on a day that was also celebrated as the fans’ farewell for the injured Ashley Harrison and Luke Bailey.
Along with a number of changes in the coaching personnel – including new head coach Neil Henry – there has been a high turnover of playing personnel with Steve Michaels (Hull), Albert Kelly and Maurice Blair (Hull KR), Sam Irwin (Featherstone Rovers), Beau Henry (Dragons) and Siuatonga Likiliki all departing the club.