Would you have the courage to walk into Wayne Bennett’s office and quietly let him know that in your spare time, you jump from the sky at 200km/hr at 14,000 feet?

Nope. Me neither.

Which is why I never did.

No matter how I tried to broach the subject with my former coach, I chose to hold off until I absolutely had to reveal how I wished to spend my days off!

Of course, those within the player development and welfare departments were well aware of my choosing to secure my skydiving licence.

Keegan Hipgrave exclusive insight 1

I was 20 at the time when it all became a reality.

I remember thinking after high school: WTF am I going to do with the rest of my life.

Of course, playing rugby league was the only thing I cared about. But like most-loving parents would stress, I needed to have a Plan B. Studying a part time Business degree suffice.

It was one of the many random thoughts I have, but back then I remember thinking – gee I always wondered how cool would it be to jump out of a plane and get paid to do it.

I laughed at myself at the time, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.

So I made a promise to myself: six weeks. You have six weeks Keegan, to save up enough money, and book yourself in for a tandem skydive.

Mad, I know, but I almost wanted to just get it over with, find out I hated everything there was to air jumping, and then move on to something else.

How wrong I would be.

Keegan Hipgrave exclusive insight 1

I still remember the rush and excitement that came over me when I launched out of that plane! It was unlike anything I have ever done before.

I knew from that moment on, it was for me. I still wasn’t sure what the future held for me, but I knew that skydiving was what I wanted to do.

So I kept plying away with rugby league, as I had been signed to the Brisbane Broncos NYC team and things moving in a positive direction for me.

And then it wasn’t too long, before the Gold Coast Titans made a play to securing me via a mid-season acquisition, which saw me return to my home city to make my NRL Debut.

By then, I had already made up my mind that I would shelve absolutely everything until the off-season, but at which point I would fully commit to starting my skydiving instructors course.

Of course, in between that Neil Henry had been replaced by Garth Brennan, and one thing I did not want to do was upset my new coach before I had even had a chance to build a relationship with him.

Keegan Hipgrave exclusive insight 1

I could imagine for any coach, the last thing they would want to hear is that one of their players parachutes out of a plane during his down time.

I was straight up with Garth. I gave him a call and told him that I wanted to let him know before he heard it from anyone else.

I explained to him that I was a completing my qualification, and that while I understood he might have reservations, this was something I could see myself doing for a large majority of my life.

Garth couldn’t have been better about the whole situation.

He was totally fine with my desire, but simply asked that I refrain from any jumps during injury or rehab periods, which I fully accepted.

But that whole exchanged made me truly appreciate how much he genuinely cares for his people.

The moment he stepped foot into the club, he told everyone from corporate staffers to the playing group and football department members, this is how things are going to be done from here on out, but don’t forget I am on your side.

We are a family, and that he wants the best for us.

It’s that total faith he has that makes us all want to play for him, and develop and build a strong team that he can lead now and into the future.

Keegan Hipgrave exclusive insight 1

You can see signs of continued improvement each week, and the culture of the place has completely shifted in the 18 months that I have been here.

It’s a key reason why I hurriedly signed a two year extension mid-season, pinning my future on the Gold Coast.

Yes it’s where I was born and raised, but ask any NRL footballer and they will all tell you the same thing.

If you can’t envisage team success, or you don’t feel as though you are in the best possible position to maximise your full potential, than you have no choice but to assess your long-term options.

Thankfully, I know that there are blue skies ahead and that we are building something incredibly special at Parkwood.