Nathan Ross has never played in Round 1 of an NRL season, and at this moment there is nothing he would rather do more.
Throughout a long and tough pre-season, Ross has used this goal as his main motivation to push himself a little harder every session.
Every day on his wrist strapping he writes ‘R1’ for Round 1 and ‘C.C’, for City v Country Origin.
“This pre-season has been massive for me,” Ross said as the squad prepared to travel to Queanbeyan on Friday morning.
“The biggest thing was to sacrifice and train harder to make that Round 1 squad.
The daily ritual of writing on his wrist strapping started late last year when the utility back underwent eye surgery.
For several weeks he was unable train with the main squad due to the risks of contact, and instead had to run laps of the field to build on his fitness.
“The coaches don’t watch you so much when you’re running on your own in rehab, so I made sure everyday to write that on my wrist strapping,” Ross explained.
“So whenever I got tired or I felt I was slacking off, I’d look down at that and realise what I was working for.
“It makes me go that little bit harder.”
This dedication is paying off for Ross as he gets closer to his goal of playing in Round 1.
For the trial match against the Canberra Raiders this Saturday the 28-year-old has been rewarded with a starting spot on the wing, although he’s quick to say that there are still no guarantees for Round 1 yet.
“I’ve got to perform well this weekend,” he said.
“There are a lot of people that are vying for the spot.
“We’ve got a lot of depth in the outside backs this year, so no position is locked in.”
Ross will also be facing a big challenge as he’s set to come up against last season’s competition top scorer and New Zealand international Jordan Rapana.
Ross is looking forward to the challenge though, and can’t wait to run out at Seiffert Oval.
“Playing against Canberra is something that I really look forward to, because Jordan Rapana is one of the wingers I really enjoy marking up against,” he said.
“He’s a real competitor so that makes for an enjoyable game.”