By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
Jordan Drew is a month shy of his 21st birthday but after spending the past nine years in the Broncos system has sacrificed it all to make a fist of his rugby league career at the Cronulla Sharks.
The 2015 NYC Team of the Year centre has landed in the shire with no family and no partner by his side after signing with the Sharks on a two-year deal in October.
It's been a long road for the Nanango junior who at 18 made his first grade debut against the Dragons as an injury replacement for Lachlan Maranta.
His progression to the top grade wasn't anticipated.
In fact he was kicked out of pre-season by under-20s coaching staff earlier on in 2013 – his debut year – after failing to impress.
"I wasn't even expected to play 20s that year. I was only 18 at the time and I was too unfit and they didn't want me there," Drew told NRL.com.
"I eventually came back from injury around Round 13 through the Mal Meninga Cup and jumped into the 20s for the next seven or so games. I was just happy to play 20s, keeping in mind I had never had contact at all with first grade.
"Then Anthony Griffin gave me a call one weekend and said he wanted me at training on Monday. I assumed it was just for the experience.
"But by Thursday he'd pulled me in and told me I was playing, and I just could not believe it honestly. It was the most bizarre, great feeling you'd ever feel."
Scoring a try in the Broncos' two-point win, Drew's unexpected debut has been his only NRL game to date.
With the usual path to first grade set out for most players working their way up from the Holden Cup, Drew instead was promoted to the first grade pre-season squad in 2014.
Yet with Anthony Griffin's departure Drew was demoted back to the under-20s squad with master coach Wayne Bennett returning to the Broncos.
Drew fails to hold any grudges though, and said because his debut was such an outlier he hasn't been frustrated by his past two seasons away from first grade.
"It's all sort of happened in reverse for me so that's why starting afresh is what I need. Consistency is what everybody needs so it'll go a long way in helping me," Drew said.
"[My debut] feels like forever ago. Though because it was such a shock to actually play it's been hard to say it's been frustrating because it wasn't expected.
"Being so young the bar was set a whole lot higher than the normal routine of playing 20s and then sort of cracking it then. In a way I sort of ignore it because I know it wasn't the normal progression for me.
"It was a great bonus but now I'm in a full time NRL squad it will be quite frustrating if I'm not playing again in the next few years because this is it for me – there's no more 20s."
A stranger to Sydney unless he was either playing or cooped up in a hotel on away games, Drew's move to the centre of Cronulla has been an ideal one.
"I love it. I'm right near anything and I can't complain. The boys have welcomed me fine too and I'm feeling part of the team which is what I want and what they want," Drew said.
"There are no distractions here; it's all new for me. So there's no excuse and I'm ready to give it a red hot crack.
"It's all in my power and how I apply myself off the field too so it's up to me, I'm not here to make up the numbers."