Keith Mason turns rugby league players into comic book stars in graphic novel

Former front rower has linked with a host of top names from both sides of the world

Keith Mason has produced a second novel in the Rugby Blood series

Keith Mason wants to lift the profile of rugby league players on both sides of the world – through the latest comic-book reworking of his own remarkable story.

The former Wakefield, St Helens, Castleford and Huddersfield prop has just released ‘Rugby Blood 2’, the follow-up to a graphic novel that places the 13-man code and its players at the centre of its narrative.

It means the likes of Super League’s Zak Hardaker, Konrad Hurrell and John Bateman appear in drawn form alongside NRL stars Josh Addo-Carr, Kayln Ponga and Jarome Luai.

With talks over a potential Netflix series and plans to give the players their own Top Trumps game, Mason believes he can make genuine superheroes out of the sport’s top names.

Wigan back rower John Bateman is among the Super League stars to feature

They play their part in the story of Dave King, a rugby league-playing double agent whose own upbringing shares several experiences with that of Mason’s.

The 39-year-old explained: “I got into a lot of fights as a kid, was on the wrong side of the tracks and ended up in court over 40 times by the time I was 14.

“Some of that stuff I’m not proud of, but the fact I managed to come out of that situation and have the career that I did shows you can chase your dreams.

“The last time I went to court was the 45th occasion, it was in Bradford and it was with a kid I hung around with that I got into the most trouble with. I came out with a two-year suspended probation.

A host of top players from Australia’s NRL are involved in the project

“I had something like an epiphany that I wanted to be a professional rugby league player, and the very next day I started running and cut out all the negativity in my life.

“My mum fought for me throughout my childhood and without her I wouldn’t where I am now, but at 14 I was a kid with not many people on my side.

“I had a lot of energy – it just needed to be channeled in the right direction, and turning that around is the biggest achievement in my life.”

Mason’s career also saw him represent Wales and play in the NRL for Melbourne Storm, before he turned to acting after retirement.

His initial Rugby Blood concept was for a film, but instead he developed it into a graphic novel, which also includes friend Joe Calzaghe and Physical Disability Rugby League star Adam Hills, the Australian comedian.

Leeds centre Konrad Hurrell is back for the second edition

Mason hopes that helps his rugby league characters become household names. He added: “For this second version I contacted 50 of the best players in the world and asked them if I could use their names and likeliness.

“For rugby league fans it gives them someone relevant that they know when they pick up the comic, but it’s a universal story about a kid that went through struggle after struggle and made something of himself.

“It’s all stuff that’s never been done before in rugby league and hopefully it will continue to grow and get bigger and bigger.”

For more information on Keith Mason’s Rugby Blood 2 visit here.

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