Former Warrior Steve Price’s big comeback on Celebrity Treasure Island

Treasure Island’s nice guy has spent his sport retirement looking after people

Take Steve Price out of his comfort zone and he’s a happy chap. One of the things the former Warriors rugby league star is looking forward to most about being on Celebrity Treasure Island is the chance to test himself in situations most of us would go out of our way to avoid.

“I just want to start starving and struggling to sleep and being wet and cold,” he says. “The uncomfortable zone is where I thrive, I love it. My fitness level and my age might change that a bit, but it will be a good challenge.”

Steve, 49, admits that physically, he’s not in the best shape of his life. Now a Health and Safety Advisor on the gas rigs, based in South East Queensland, he works long hours and hasn’t had the chance to train.

“I’m not prepared,” he admits. “I’m the most unfit I’ve ever been and the heaviest I’ve ever been, but it is what it is. A reason why I want to last a long time is because people usually come out skinnier than when they went in – that’s a real positive! Hopefully, it gets me into a routine again where I can be healthy mentally, physically and emotionally.”

Steve, who captained the Warriors from 2005-2009, then stayed on in New Zealand before returning to his native Australia in 2017, hadn’t seen Celebrity Treasure Island before he was asked to take part. He did watch some snippets, but says the fact the show tends to change with every series meant he couldn’t really prepare for what’s about to happen.

“Whatever I’ve done in the past, I’ve always got a fair idea of what’s going on. So not knowing is very different. But everyone is the same. I’d be more anxious if everyone else knew what was going on and I didn’t. I’m just taking it as it comes and going with the experience.

“I just hope it’s not a political, conniving, back-stabbing environment. I hope we’re in it to do the best for our charities and we enjoy each other’s company.”

Steve’s just as keen for a win as he was playing for the Warriors in 2009.

Part of the attraction of doing the show was the chance to come back to New Zealand, which was home to Steve, wife Jo and their children Jamie-Lee, Riley and Kasey for 13 years.

“The last time we were here was 2019, so it’s awesome to be back. We’ve got so many friends over here. Our experience in New Zealand was so much larger than my rugby league career – our whole family benefited from it and it’s a really special place for us all.”

One of the things they took away from their time here was the importance of family. Steve says he noticed that respect for family is very entrenched in Kiwi communities, and ironically that led to the decision to return to Australia so they could be closer to their whānau.

“If my and my wife’s family were here instead of Aussie, we’d still be here,” he says. “We love it.”

After retiring from league in 2009, Steve missed the excitement and challenges of professional sport, but found fulfilment again when he bought the Four Square store in the Northland community of Waipu¯ in 2014.

“After I retired, there was a bit of a void but the Four Square was the closest to what I felt when I was playing. We were a small team doing similar things every day, but challenges would come at us and we’d deal with them. You’d watch young people grow – shy 15-year-olds who left at 18 to go to university and they’re confident and ready to take on the world. It was incredible.”

His current job, which he started last year, also gives him a sense of satisfaction.

With wife Jo and kids (from left) Riley, Jamie-Lee and Kasey.

“Doing health and safety, I’m looking after people. I’m not telling them what to do but giving them guidance. It won’t be the same feeling [that he got from sport and running the Four Square], but something close would be good.”

Steve says it’s good for his family that he’s got something to be excited about because he doesn’t want to be a “grumpy old dad”.

One of the things he enjoyed most about being in New Zealand, both when he was playing and when he retired, was that he was treated like a normal bloke.

“I was just the bloke who lived around the corner. I could watch my kids play sports and no one treated me differently. It was awesome.”

His kids are now all off doing their own thing. Jamie-Lee, 27, is a professional netball player for Giants Netball and Riley, 22, plays for NRL team North Queensland Cowboys. Kasey, 25, works in aged care. They all support their dad’s decision to do reality TV.

“They think it’s great I want to have a crack at it. But the first thing Kasey said was, ‘Don’t embarrass us, Dad!’ So I’m going to be thinking all the time, ‘Don’t do anything stupid!'”

Celebrity Treasure Island premiered Monday 18 September at 7.30pm on TVNZ 2 and TVNZ+.

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