Watmough's girlfriend Brooke 'you're a dickhead'." How three words helped bring Sea Eagles star Anthony Watmough back down to earth Â Â * By Nick Walshaw Â Â * From: The Daily Telegraph Â Â * September 11, 2009 http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/nrl/how-three-words-helped-bring-sea-eagles-star-anthony-watmough-back-down-to-earth/story-e6frexnr-1225771629013 Three words that put Watmough on the right track...Anthony Watmough at the Dally M awards with girlfriend Brooke Cullen. Source: The Daily Telegraph ANTHONY Watmough reckons it's all because of three words. The NSW State of Origin revival and Dally M medal. That Army of One tag, too. Even the Facebook group entitled Replace Wally's Statue with King Watmough. "Yeah, it's thanks to a chat my girlfriend Brooke had with me," Watmough reveals. "It was just before we started dating, about five months back. When she sat me down and said, 'you're a dickhead'." Sitting inside the cafeteria at Narrabeen's Academy of Sport and Recreation, Watmough is opening up on the other NRL overhaul quietly taking shape as the world focuses on Parramatta's Jarryd Hayne. On a transformation that doesn't involve those good folk at the Hillsong ministry. No Hallelujahs or Holy Ones, here. But still the overhaul has been profound. It's a metamorphosis that sees Watmough, only six months after that controversial Sea Eagles season launch, talking ownership and expectation. Charity rosters, too. So overhauled he now wants - gasp - the NRL poster boy mantle once held by Manly icon Steve Menzies. "Because this isn't just about having kids look up to me," Watmough says. "I mean, their parents ... I want to be sure they're proud of the fact their son or daughter is choosing me as a role model, too." And it's all because of that conversation back in April. When Brooke Cullen was a long-time friend to Watmough and nothing more. Not keen to be either. "Nah, Brooke said she wasn't going to go out with a dickhead," Watmough recalls. "We'd been friends a long time, but when I spoke about a relationship, she said she wasn't going to waste her time on some idiot who was always splashed across the back page of newspapers for the wrong reasons. "And to hear that from someone you really like, someone you really respect, mate, it hit home. She's brought balance to my life. Shown me that I don't have to be the larrikin who is always getting himself into mischief. "I mean, it's all about growing up, isn't it? Taking on responsibility. And even now I know she still cops it from people for choosing to be with me. It's why I'm ... well, I guess you could say a work in progress." Of all the hits Watmough has taken since his 2002 debut with the Northern Eagles, none stung quite like this one. Choc, after all, has long been the quintessential rugby league bad boy. The man in black. A fella whose role in that Manly Wharf Bar drama saw him overtake even Willie Mason as the most divisive footballer of any code in this country. For proof, recall The Daily Telegraph's interview with the Manly backrower on the eve of his Origin recall in June, when he spoke openly about the incident and how son Jake had asked "Daddy, did you punch that man?" The first website blogger logged in at 1.45am. By the close of play 128 more had followed. Calling Choc gutless and guilty, meathead and Whatmouth. Plenty more critics never even making it past the censors. For many it mattered not that Watmough had already apologised - and been fined - for comments made to model Sarah Durazza. Few were interested either in eyewitness accounts confirming he only defended himself after a push from her father Paul. Because there has never been any grey when it comes to this controversial Kangaroos forward. Loved or loathed. Adored or abused. Simply take your side and dig in. It's why Choc gets swamped whenever he returns to the Narrabeen high school he walked out on in Year 9. Why there are seven Facebook sites dedicated to his exploits, too. And why little Nathan Mulholland, aged seven, waves that Choc, Choc Boom banner at Brookvale Oval. "Yeah, but I know there's also an Anthony Watmough Hate Club on Facebook," he laughs. "And that's fine. Because there was a time when I thought I knew everything. When if someone said something and I thought differently - well, I wasn't going to walk away. "It's actually one of the things Brooke spoke to me about. That just because something is on my mind, it doesn't mean I have any right to say it." It's an understanding now consuming this fella from housing commission stock. A kid who caught four public buses to play on Saturdays with the Narrabeen Sharks and, by 15, was cleaning windows for $9 an hour. At 16, he was a father to daughter Claudia. At 19, son Jake too. But only now, nine years on, is this single dad truly appreciating those names inked down each forearm. "Oh, when my kids were babies, I was too young to appreciate them, definitely" Watmough concedes. "I mean, I was still a kid myself. Sixteen. So watching a baby grow every day, I just couldn't embrace it. Couldn't appreciate it." And now? "Now, I've got two best mates whose old man is a lot younger than most," he smiles. "And knowing they look up to me, it's great. "It's the same when kids approach me in the street to say I'm their favourite player, I never want to lose that. It's something Steve Menzies had and a mantle I'd like to earn too. "Which I know will have some people laughing and I can't control that. Can't win everyone over. "But that's one of the great things about being a rugby league player - every day you're given another chance to try."