It took an off-season stint as a builder’s labourer to remind Nathan Ross about the potential consequences of taking his career for granted.
The Newcastle Knights winger has revealed he dragged himself out of bed at 5.45 each morning for three weeks to “go and work in the real world” after finding he was struggling to get motivated about a return to pre-season training for this season.
“I did three weeks as a builder’s labourer with a mate of Jamie Buhrer, Max Wilson, from Timber and Stone Concepts,”Ross said.
“I was filling up tip bins, sheeting walls, doing demolition work, helping put studs in new walls and generally just helping Max do renovations on houses.
“I actually really enjoyed it and I’m going to study to do my Cert 4 in building this year at Belmont TAFE.
“I’ll enroll in the next few weeks and do it one night a week and when I finish footy, I might progress into that to help me prepare for life after rugby league.”
Ross, who gave up a $120,000-a-year mining job back in 2014 to sign a part-time $25,000 contract with the Knights to chase his NRL dream, said he wasn’t in a good mind-set six weeks out from the start of pre-season training back in November.
“To be honest, I was just finding it a bit hard to find the motivation to get back into it in the pre-season which is unusual for me,”he said.
“So when Jamie said his mate was looking for someone to do some work, I thought it would be a good way to remind me what the working world was like and I didn’t regret it.
“I enjoyed it but it was a reminder of what it’s like to get up before 6am and go and do a full day’s work and then find the energy to go and do my own training.
“It worked because after doing it, I couldn’t wait to get back [to pre-season]. It just gave me a taste of how hard I have worked to get to where I am and if I don’t continue to work hard, what the consequences could be.”
Despite being one of the club’s real success stories over the past couple of seasons, Ross said the depth at the club this year had left no player’s position safe, particularly in the outside backs.
“No-one’s spot is set in stone, that’s for sure,” he said.
“It’s just the way everyone’s training at the moment. A guy like Tommy Hughes has really stepped up, Nick Meaney has had a great pre-season, Corey Dennis and Matt Cooper – young players who are coming through the ranks.
“You can’t afford to have any days where you are off the pace and then there are the established guys like Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Kenny Sio, myself, Tautau Moga all fighting for spots.
“It’s really healthy because the competition is bringing the best out of all of us.”