If there is a Newcastle Knights NSW Cup player who typifies resilience, then Nathan Ross is your man.
Down and out at the start of the last year after breaking his leg, Ross seriously contemplated giving up his lifelong goal of playing in the NRL.
As much as the prospect of a season on the sidelines was daunting though, he refused to surrender and fought his way back to make a grand final with local club Kurri Kurri and attract interest from the Knights.
It's a never-say-die attitude that was on display again this season when he broke his jaw in the pre-season trials, but again rose above the setback to earn a full-time contract.
Now Ross has swapped his job working in the coal mines in Singleton for starring in the Club's table-topping NSW Cup side.
He has scored four tries in the past fortnight and credits his rise up the ranks to remaining focused, even under adversity.
"I just kept a positive mindset," Ross tells Behind the Armour.
"I wasn’t too happy when I broke my jaw for example, but my attitude was to get the scans and then set up a return to work plan and every week I was progressing and could start my contact and cardio.
"My first goal was to get back in the team and from there to start playing well and it’s all starting to come together.
"I'm so happy, because I’d kind of given it away last year when I broke my leg at the beginning of the year.
"I was like, 'oh well there goes my chance'.
"But I didn’t want to give up and returned to Kurri first in the local comp.
"Then I got another call-up to the NSW Cup and things have just got better and better."
From his classy try scoring feats through to his elusive ball running, Ross has been a standout for the Knights in recent weeks.
It's not a bad effort from a bloke, who only five weeks ago, was doing long hours in the coal mines as a part-timer while recovering from his broken jaw.
"I was leaving home at 4.30 in the morning, working and then leaving and going straight to training and not getting home until 9 at night," he recalls.
"Then I’d do it all again.
"But when I came back from my broken jaw, Stoney got me to start full-time training and it’ all been positive from there.
"I love the fact that I’m not having to drive all the way out to Singleton and back, because I prefer training a lot more.
"I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve got at this point in time.
"Now I’m back and starting to get on top of my fitness and everything and just playing in a good team.
"I think that has been the key to success, because there is a good feeling in the team and I’m just doing my job."
When it comes to performing, Ross certainly can't be faulted.
The 25-year-old, formally with the Burleigh Bears in the Queensland Cup back in 2009-2010, has played a vital role in a Knights side that has discovered their groove in attack and defence.
While there's no doubting Ross has been a big part of this success with his try scoring efforts, he humbly deflects any praise.
"I’m happier with the wins actually," he says.
"The tries are good for an individual thing, but I’m happier that the team is getting the wins on the board and hopefully it can keep continuing that way."
It's a challenge that starts today with a top of the table clash against Wentworthville at Ringrose Park in Sydney from 3pm.
Coach Rick Stone is excited by match-up against the Magpies, while he can't wait to watch Ross in action again from fullback.
“Nathan has made a cracker start to the year," Stone enthuses.
“He has been our Players’ Player in two out of three games and I have no doubt he has the ability to play at a higher level."
The ability and a positive mindset, that's the combination for success according to Ross.
“You’ve just got to stay positive and keep working at what you want to get to and hopefully I’ll get there," he concludes.
"I played in the local comp for a while, but it was still good because it shows you can play there and still get picked up.
"Playing first grade has been my aim since I was six-years-old, so I'll do whatever it takes to get there."
It's a resilient attitude that will ensure Ross one day fulfils his ultimate goal of playing in the NRL.