Ryan Girdler

Former Kangaroo, New South Wales State of Origin centre and Panthers legend Ryan Girdler has made a success of his life on and off the field, applying his trademark tenacity to his burgeoning business empire.
Ryan Girdler
For the past eight years, Ryan and his wife Katja have owned and operated a successful coffee shop at Dee Why Beach called Girdlers Grind. The café is a popular establishment amongst the Northern Beaches community and combines a relaxed beach vibe with top shelf espresso.

Over the past three years, Ryan and his business partner have also ventured into the art of coffee blending, with his personal label ‘Girdlers Grind’ available for sale at more than a dozen outlets, including on the shelves at Coles.

When asked which is harder – owning and running a successful business or playing rugby league at a professional level – Girdler said that both have their challenges.

“When I first started at the café, people would ask me how it felt to have a ‘real job’.

“You can’t explain the intensity of training or the scrutiny and pressure of being a professional sportsperson.

“When I started my business it was a whole different playing field. I worked 80 hours a week mopping floors, training staff and learning about the business from the bottom up.”

Girdler remains very much involved in the game, attending two matches each weekend in his talkback role on Triple M. He will be on the sideline at the State of Origin and said that he is looking forward to enjoying the excitement of the atmosphere rather than worrying about the nerves and pressure of his playing days.

Girdler’s favourite Origin moment was playing with Laurie Daley in his last season in 1999. Outside State of Origin, he cites the 2003 Grand Final win against the Sydney Roosters as the pinnacle event of his career.

Girdler, who toured in three Kangaroo sides, said, “Nothing beats the experience of camp. Some of my fondest memories were in those six or seven weeks of touring and playing for your country in front of huge crowds – there’s simply nothing like it.”

Off the field and out of the café, Girdler spends time with his German wife and his two daughters and enjoys a surf when time permits.

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