Five years ago, Mick Watson was the boss of a National Rugby League club with seven-figure revenue streams. In two weeks, he will take charge of sport at a secondary school.

Penthouse to the outhouse? Not according to Watson, who will start as director of sport at Rangitoto College in Mairangi Bay when the academic year begins.

Watson resigned as chief executive of the Warriors in 2005. He told the Herald he was "not sure if it was a mid-life crisis" but there was certainly a lot of soul-searching.

"One day I realised that when I was growing up, my dad was around ... so I wanted to give more time to my kids first and foremost."

Watson has four children.

"The corporate life is a different road for all those who are in there. You're constantly trying to be better than the others, constantly climbing ladders. It can be ludicrous really."

Watson says he went back to his sporting roots. His eldest son Dane is a promising cricketer and Watson started coaching at the Grafton club.

Then he saw the opportunity come up at Rangitoto, New Zealand's largest secondary school.

Principal David Hodge was surprised when Watson's application for the job dropped into the box. Once he had established the application was genuine, he was interested.

The name understandably brought up some red flags. Shortly after Watson left the Warriors, they were docked four competition points and fined A$430,000 for salary-cap breaches totalling A$860,000, infractions that were blamed in large part on him.

Said Mr Hodge: "The way he communicated it to us was that the Warriors were a chapter in his life and he learned a lot from it. Since the Warriors, he has had a fundamental rethink about where he was going and what he wanted to achieve."