MANY have marvelled at Canterbury winger Curtis Rona's rise to be one of the NRL's most prolific try scorers this year.
But the impetus to his stunning ascension is still seven weeks off being born.
Twelve months ago Rona faced an uncertain future after being cut by North Queensland but has found a home at Belmore and finished the season second on the competition try scorers' list.
Rona and his wife Jacinta are expecting their first child during the off-season, an experience he says has been transformative.
The quietly spoken New Zealand-born and West Australian-raised flyer said the responsibility of impending fatherhood was contributing to his purple patch.
"When you're having a baby or have a kid, you want to represent them as much as you can, to do the best you can to support them, to build them up and for them to be proud of you," Rona said.
"I think it's going to be another stepping stone once the baby comes and I'll be trying to up my game and trying to make the little baby happy."
Rona will likely remember 2015 as the most eventful of his life.
He married Jacinta in Bali during a mid-season bye-week after being given time off by coach Des Hasler.
He has cemented a spot in the Bulldogs side, fulfilling his NRL dream, and will soon become a father.
Rona hailed the influence of his wife, who he met in Perth and has been with him during the peaks and troughs of the last several years.
He said she had kept him out of trouble and grounded throughout his journey and was eagerly looking forward to expanding their family.
"Twelve months ago I didn't have a clue what I was doing," Rona said.
"We didn't have much on the table and I was stressing about not getting opportunities through injury and not being picked.
"To turn it around has been a massive achievement and awesome transformation."
● Injured Melbourne winger Marika Koroibete has missed the Storm's main training session but remains an outside chance of playing in Saturday week's NRL preliminary final against North Queensland or Cronulla.
The Fijian flyer needed 12 stitches to a cut on his achilles, suffered during their qualifying-final win over the Sydney Roosters.
Prop Jordan McLean and back-rower Tim Glasby are battling knee injuries but Storm coach Craig Bellamy is hopeful they'll also be right for the grand final qualifier. AAP