I have an image problem. There is no two ways about it.

Those who follow our great game tend to already have a perception about me – even if they haven’t met me.

Their opinions are formed from what they have seen and heard through their television screens, or read in the newspapers.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m nowhere near perfect – I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes, both on and off the field, and my journeyman career reflects that.

The numerous headlines I have created throughout my time in the NRL, has largely influenced those external perceptions about me.

And I’ve always maintained that no one else has ever been responsible for my actions – I’ve only had myself to blame when I’ve put myself at the centre of public scrutiny.

But I’m at a point in my life now where all I want to be is a positive influence – and not even just for myself but more for my kids, family and the wider community I represent and who see me as a role model.

Kenny Edwards

Of course, words count for nothing, and only I can change those perceptions through continuous hard work and actions. No one else.

My reputation has been at the forefront of my mind for the past six months following my most recent indiscretion in the NRL – which brought embarrassment and negative press attention to my family and I.

It’s those days where I can understand how fans, who simply pick up a newspaper, can forge an unfavourable opinion of me, despite never meeting me or knowing the kind of person I am.

It’s something my coach Brad Arthur and I have spoken at length about; it even became a focal point during my end-of-season exit review.

I emphasised to him that I want to stand for something; someone my teammates want to play with and for, and an individual all of our game’s stakeholders can respect and appreciate.

My daughter is six and she can read now – if she walks past a shop and sees her father on the back of the newspaper for some negative stuff, I know it’d break her heart. So I’ve got to clean up my act.

I’m certain that my discipline was a key factor as to why I was not considered for New Zealand for this year’s Rugby League World Cup team – that was a massive wake-up call.

A few years ago, the omission wouldn’t have even troubled me.

But I’m grown, and want so much for myself now.

Kenny Edwards

In saying that, I never want to forget my past or where I’ve come from, as it has shaped who I am.

But that person who I use to be, isn’t me anymore.

From here on, what’s happened in the past I want to keep it there – learn from it, but be able to lead in a more positive direction.

I’m 28, and I know that my time in the NRL is now closer to the finishing line than the starting post.

So I have to make the most of every opportunity.

Those who are familiar with my story will know that it has been a mammoth achievement just to still be standing here.

For a long time, I did not know what “feeling safe” meant.

I did a massive article with the Daily Telegraph last year about my family upbringing.

I remember there were times as a kid, we would go weeks on end with nothing in the kitchen pantry.

I would steal food from school for my little brother and I, just so we didn’t go to bed feeling hungry.

My dad was abusive towards my mum all the time – I hated him all my life, and blamed him for a lot of things that happened in my life.

I have only recently begun talking to him – but our relationship will never be the same. I have forgiven him, but he knows he can’t change what he has done in the past.

That’s why I am so passionate about working with troubled youth – because I know what it is like to be their shoes.

I was the same troubled kid, who did not want to go home at day’s end.

So it’s important for me to be that voice that they can turn to if they ever need someone to listen to their pain.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 24: Kenny Edwards of the Eels celebrates victory with fans after the round 25 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium on August 24, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 24: Kenny Edwards of the Eels celebrates victory with fans after the round 25 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium on August 24, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

It’s shaped how I want to raise my own children – as well as my daughter, I have a three-year-old son and they’re my everything.

It’s hard with myself and their mother breaking up, but I never wanted to be someone that was away from their kids because my own father did that to me at an early age and I hated it.

And while it’s been unfortunate that my relationship with their mum did not work out, we still remain really good friends and I head back to see them on the Gold Coast every second weekend.

It’s good to know that I can play such a positive role in their life – now it’s about extending those same positive actions into my football.

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Kenny Edwards

Kenny Edwards is a New Zealand professional rugby league football player who currently plays for the Parramatta Eels in the NRL.

Kenny primarily plays in the second-row, and is a cousin to NSW origin forward James Tamou.

His daughter Malia-Rose Edwards and son Kymani Edwards are his everything.