A judge asked Nicho Hynes if he’d look after his mum for 2 years. He said he'd do it his whole life.

Growing up, all Nicho Hynes wanted was to become a professional rugby league player. He says that dream brought him a sense of escapism, and a purpose. His childhood was tough, though. 

When Hynes was between the ages of five and 12, his mother was in and out of jail.

"I don't really remember mum being home. I probably remember seeing her for like maybe a couple of weeks and then she'd go back inside," the NRL player tells Mamamia's No Filter.

Hynes' mum struggled with drug addiction, which began after her partner died tragically in a truck driving accident. 

"She just went downhill when she lost him," Hynes says, adding that seeing police officers place his mother in the back of a paddy wagon is an image unlikely to leave his memory.

Nicho with his brother and mum growing up. Image: Supplied.


"When mum was in and out of jail I was very lucky that I had a stable home to live in with my dad and his wife. Otherwise who knows where I'd be right now. But I loved my upbringing. Especially when my mum came home and was out of jail for a longer period of time from Year 7 onwards until over the last few years. Mum was the 'cool mum' and definitely wanted to make up for lost time."

Hynes managed to cement his place in the NRL back in 2019 with Melbourne Storm, now playing for Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. He says that being able to show his mum what's he done in the sport he loves has been particularly special. 

She was his date to the Dally M Awards in 2022, where he won the Dally M Medal. He paid tribute to her in his acceptance speech.

"She means the absolute world to me and I can't thank her enough. I wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for my dad either, he held me together," Hynes said in his speech.

Even though there were parts of his childhood that were turbulent, Hynes doesn't "resent" his mum. He loves her dearly. He says they share a lot of the same traits and they care about the same things.


He tells No Filter: "I can't speak highly enough of mum as a person and her caring nature. She's just been caught up in the wrong things at times, and she had a way tougher upbringing than I did."

In 2023, Hynes' mum was in trouble with the law. 

She was found guilty of knowingly taking part in supplying 180.7g of heroin after a close family friend was found dead in her living room. She is not accused of playing any role in his death, and the court heard her role in the drug operation was "extremely limited".


Hynes still remembers the way the Australian sports media handled the news story.

"They released some footage of the police with the GoPro on of my mum [the moment she was arrested]. She was sitting in the laneway, just literally in shock. She was so vulnerable. It just broke me, it really broke my heart to see her in that situation and how rattled she was," he explains.

Part of the judge's intensive corrections order ruling was that Hynes' mother must live with her son for at least two years.

Hynes told the court he would be happy to take care of her forever, and he decided to buy a house with a granny flat attachment in Cronulla to make sure he could house his mum properly. 

"I'm looking after her now and it's awesome, she's going great. She still has her up and down moments. She's not wanting to ever go back anywhere near a prison cell. She's enjoying life with my dog and it's really pleasing to walk out the backyard and see her working on her art and trying to make a business out of it.

"I can build my life the way I want to build it so I can look after her and I'm happy to do it."

Watch part of Nicho Hynes' Dally M acceptance speech. Post continues below.


Video via Fox League.

Before embarking on his NRL career, Hynes was working at a primary school and it brought him a lot of joy to see the impact he was having on the students.

"I was in a deep, deep [depression] hole. But this school I was working at was in a low socioeconomic area with a lot of disadvantage, and it put things in perspective for me. It hit home, because these kids probably had some stuff going on in their own lives but they were running up to me with a smile on their faces every day," he notes.

"Those kids don't even know what they've done for me."

Another source of comfort and strength for Hynes has been learning about his Indigenous heritage.

"Mum always knew her dad got taken away from her when she was young, so I never got to meet him. I don't think I've ever seen a photo of him to be honest. Everything about him is lost from us," he tells No Filter

"So my mum didn't get to experience much culture in her upbringing either. It was while she was in jail that she started to hang out with some of the Aboriginal girls and do paintings and whatnot. She started feeling more comfortable about her culture, about our culture, and began to speak about it with us. Now I'm loving learning about it more, and being in Indigenous rounds and connecting with my culture and people — it's amazing."


He still unfortunately has dealt with racism though.

"I just cop a different side of it, I cop that I'm 'not Black enough'. I've been told that I'm 'too white to be Aboriginal' and people questioning who I am my whole upbringing," he told Nine Sports recently. 

"Now learning so much, being part of the Indigenous round, being around all the brothers in camp and seeing how much they care about who I am, me as a person, and my identity — it's pretty special."

Now doing what he loves most, Hynes says he wants any kids out there who have faced hardship to know it will all be okay — his story is a testament to this. 

"I was caring a lot about what people thought of me, but then I had to think to myself, 'Be true to yourself.' I just want to inspire the next generation kids who have gone through a similar story to know they can chase their dreams."

You can listen to the full interview with Nicho Hynes on No Filter now. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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