Date Posted:21 November 2016 

AT THE height of his powers he was one of the most feared and respected forwards in rugby league but in retirement Paul ‘The Chief’ Harragon struggled to stay on top of his game when it came to his health and fitness.

But the league legend and star of reality TV show I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! found the solution and his new passion, in travel and adventure.

“It’s tough when you retire from sport as you have a ­specific  purpose to train and a group of people who have the same goal to train with,” Harragon said.

“So for me it was about finding something that would not only challenge me physically but also mentally and with a group of like-minded people. I walked Kokoda and I felt excitement again and in turn fell in love with trekking as it pushed my boundaries.

“I then took on more trekking adventures to Borneo and Everest and then I took my whole family to climb to the summit of mount Kilimanjaro.

“This was a life-changing and a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for the Harragon family.

“My daughter got altitude sickness halfway up and I thought my wife Pam was going to kill me. But we ­pushed through and when we finally got to the top it was the greatest feeling ever.”

Harragon’s passion for trekking  has  translated into a new career with the former Newcastle Knights enforcer starting his own adventure company Wild Spirit Adventures.

“After seeing how much of a positive effect these ­adventures had on my life I wanted as many people as possible to ­experience this too,” he said.

“Everyone is looking for that thrill in life.”

Harragon said his next challenge will be walking the Kokoda Track again to commemorate our Anzac heroes.


A LITTLE known fact about The Chief is that for the past 22 years he has been a strict vegetarian.

“At the age of 25 I stopped eating red meat, as I just didn’t like the idea of how the meat got to be on my plate, plus I loved eating raw food,” he said.

“I truly believe everyone should think about putting plants on their plate first.

Eating plants are so important for not only a healthy body but also a healthy mind.

“I also encourage everyone to get their protein especially as we get a bit older as we need protein to help our muscles.

“That’s why I love starting my day with a protein smoothie and add in some banana a handful of nuts and some coconut water.

“It’s simple and easy to whip this up in the mornings plus it tastes great.”


PREPARING for treks is very different to the way Harragon used to prepare for a long, tough season of rugby league.

“I did a lot of heavy weights when I played footy and pushed my body to its limits physically, so now I like to exercise to make my body feel good,” Harragon said.

“This is why I do a lot of body weight exercises and walking.

“To be fit to go trekking it is a specific type of fitness that still requires good strength and endurance but without pounding away at your body.

“That’s why you can’t beat getting outside with your backpack and exploring nature.”


“HAVING a strong core is important when you go trekking as being stable is important as you are walking on a lot of different terrain,” he said.

“I do a lot of core work to help my trekking and the plank up is a great exercise for your core.”