I’m not the quickest bloke around, nor am I the strongest in the weights room.

I’ve never been all that powerful as an athlete, but I have always felt as though my ‘strength’ is my fitness capacity and work ethic.

Throughout my career, I have always been on the fringe of selection, and like any fringe-player will tell you, you always need to work harder than the guy next to you.

That is one of the things I realised when I went down to Melbourne – everything you hear about the place is right on the money. If you’re not prepared to work hard to keep your spot, you’ll find yourself languishing in the reserves league.

Even though I only played two seasons season under Craig Bellamy, signing with the Storm was one of the best decisions I could have made for my career.

While I only managed nine games in two years, ‘Bellache’ taught me what it truly meant to work hard, and how through genuine consistency and a strong work ethic, you can always create opportunities for yourself in the NRL, regardless of how skilled or talented you may or may not be.

Since day one, I knew that my opportunities in the game were always going to be determined by my own ability to force myself into the team each week.

But just like every other NRL player who finds themselves on the fringe of selection each week, the uncertainty of first-grade opportunities really does play on your mind.

As a player, when you’re constantly in and out of the side, it doesn’t take long for the doubts to creep into the back of your mind; you begin to question your sustained ability to play at the top level, and it does erode your confidence the more it happens.

Frustration does set in, because there are times when you feel you are playing really good footy in the reserves and pushing for chances in top grade, and for various reasons, you can’t seem to break back into the best 17.

Twice in my career I’ve gone nearly two years in between NRL games, so you can imagine how tough those times were, and the toll that can take mentally.

When you do finally get an opportunity, all you want to do is impress, but those doubts in the back of your mind ponder whether you’ll drop a ball or miss a crucial tackle that will see you back on the outer.

I felt like this all through my time in Canberra and Melbourne. It wasn’t until I came to Souths and played consistent first-grade footy, that I began to overcome those mental challenges and realise that all I need to be concerned with is doing my job for the team. From running hard, making tackles, providing energy and spark when I come onto the field.

Over time I’ve worked out what the strengths are in my game and what I can do in the team. I just try to do those to the best of my ability every weekend.

I know my best years are still ahead of me. Some kids come through and take two years to reach the magical 50 games, the mark where most players suggest that’s when they truly feel comfortable at NRL level.

It’s taken me a lot longer than that, but I feel as though I’m primed to take the next step in my career.

It’s all about giving the coach no reason to drop me, and I couldn’t ask for a better mentor in Wayne Bennett, who is renowned for getting the best out of his players.

While I never had had a chance to build a personal relationship with Wayne Bennett before he took on the coaching role at the Rabbitohs, I did form an opinion of him based on what I heard from the boys at Newcastle, through the media, when he was in charge of the Knights.

One thing they all constantly spoke about was how he was more like a father-figure, than a coach, to everyone at the club.

They spoke about how much they looked up to him, how much he cared for his players. I’ve definitely seen that side of Wayne since he has been with South Sydney; he has that care for every player in the club.

One of the first things he said to me when he arrived, was just train the way I have always done and I’ll be in the team.

Throughout the pre-season I just ripped in at every session. I got awarded with a round one selection, and since then I’ve sought to build on the confidence that Wayne is showing in me.

As a front rower coming off the bench, my role is pretty simple; run hard and straight at every opportunity, play the ball fast and when in defence bring the level of defensivity and intensity that inspires you when you see other players giving it their all.

From the bench, you really need to be able to bring that energy to the team because when fatigue sets in mid-game, you’re able to provide a spark that can, at times, help your teammates find that extra edge to keep moving forward.

This game’ isn’t easy – if it was, everyone would be in the NRL. You have to be prepared to work hard every day, not just to make it to the league, but to ensure you can be here for as long as possible.