Hooker Matt Diskin’s decision to quit Leeds Rhinos after 13 years surprised many people in the game but, as he tells Dave Craven, he is full of energy ahead of his debut for his new employers Bradford Bulls against his former club.
Matt Diskin is one of the few and so it should come as no surprise the vastly-experienced hooker could not live with himself sitting on the bench at Leeds Rhinos.
The former Great Britain international – who is a director of Millennia Property – simply has too much energy and drive to be settling for second fiddle.
That was why the decision to leave the club he has served so splendidly for 13 years, winning four Grand Finals and a World Club Challenge, was the only one he could make despite its attendant difficulties.
With former Australian Test star Danny Buderus taking over the starting spot for the last two seasons, Diskin could easily have stayed on and finished his career at Headingley, entering the fray off the bench and being part of a successful squad.
But he wanted more, including adding to his one Great Britain cap, a knee injury seven years ago truncating his international career, and instead chose to join their arch-rivals Bradford Bulls for whom he will make his debut tomorrow in Cardiff against his former employers.
Diskin, 29, had signed a one-year deal with Leeds for 2011 but the swift U-turn came just a few months later in October.
“Things catapulted in the space of 48 hours,” he recalled.
“I was aware I could sit at Leeds for the next few years if I wanted but would I be able to look myself in the mirror when I finished playing?
“I had a doubt about that. I had to take myself out of the comfort zone.
“Whether I achieve my goals or not, as long as I can look my self in the mirror I’ll be happy.”
Whether he gets the starting role at Bradford remains to be seen as they already have their own Australian star in ex-Manly regular Heath L’Estrange.
However, Diskin believes if he is in form, he will start regularly at Odsal which might not always have been the case since the illustrious Buderus’s arrival at Headingley.
The two will go face-to-face tomorrow and Diskin admits it will be fascinating tackling his friends with whom he has enjoyed so much glory.
“It was a real tough decision and I couldn’t take it lightly,” said the Dewsbury-born player who enjoyed his testimonial last year and penned an open letter to fans to explain his move.
“I’d been at Leeds 13 years – nearly half my life – it’s been a massive part of it and always will be special to me.
“But now I can’t wait for Cardiff and playing them in my first Bradford game will be great. I’m glad I made the decision. The day before pre-season with Bulls I didn’t get to sleep until half four in the morning.
“It was like my first day at high school. I was really, really excited and that sort of cemented the reason I left – I haven’t felt that for a lot of years and to have that excitement and that energy is something I was looking for.”
There are others at Bradford in a similar position.
The club who once challenged Leeds for those Old Trafford glory nights – Diskin played for Rhinos in their 2004 win but was on the losing side against the Bulls the year before and after – have failed to even make the play-offs for the last two campaigns.
But they are now under new management in the astute Mick Potter and have revamped their squad with a host of players who are all, rather than having large egos, eager to prove a point for one reason or another.
There are also plenty of familiar faces from Diskin’s days in the prolific Leeds Academy.
“There are close friends here that I grew up with in the Academy like Nick Scruton and Chev Walker,” he said.
“I’ve known them since I was 16 and it’s helped me to settle.
“We’ve also got young Kyle Briggs who was in the Leeds Academy and hopefully we can pass on the ethos we had there and bring it across to Bradford.
“Mick (Potter) is a great coach too. He did a fantastic job at Catalans and even Saints – they didn’t win anything but he took them to a Grand Final on the back of lot of a injuries and a real turbulent year last season.
“He’s brought a real good ethos and it’s a good mix. Mick’s got the disciplinarian side which is great for the young lads but he’s also flexible enough to allow you to play and express yourself.
“We have that little bit more freedom here at Bradford and it’s an exciting time for the club.”
However, how does he find time to fit in networking for that letting company?
“We have a lot of players who go home and play on PlayStation or watch films,” said Diskin, who gained a degree while at Rhinos.
“That’s great. I used to do it when I was a kid but it’s a really lazy way of living.
“My release is work and I do really enjoy it so when I’ve done at Bradford, I’ll go work as hard as I play and as long as I’m home to put the kids to bed, read a story and have dinner with them that’s how my life revolves – rugby, work and my family.”