Now 24 and with one previous NRL game to his name, Royce Hunt has taken the road less travelled ahead of his Sharks debut on Sunday night.
Sydney born, WA raised, of Kiwi parentage, Hunt will become the 537th Sharks first grade player when he takes to the field against the Bulldogs.
With his training form too hard for coach John Morris to ignore, the hard running front rower will be looking to add energy, enthusiasm, aggression and plenty of go forward when injected into a game the Sharks are desperate to win.
“I’ll do whatever the team needs,” Hunt said. “I’ll come off the back fence, bring as much energy as I can, I’m just keen to get out there and do a job for the boys.
Hunt’s rugby league journey began in the unlikely outpost of Kalgoorlie in WA, where his parents still live, as a youngster traveling to Perth to play for the Willagee Bears.
By the age of 15 his talents saw him make the move back to Sydney where Hunt played for the Bulldogs in their junior representative system, from Matthews Cup through to the NYC Holden Cup, before heading south after accepting an offer to join Canberra.
“After the 20’s the Raiders threw me a lifeline and in 2016 I played for Mounties (Canberra’s then partner club in the NSW Canterbury Cup), before having three years with the Raiders,” Hunt recalled.
Hunt made his debut in 2017, in a match played between Canberra and Penrith in Bathurst in round 14 in what would turn out to be his only top grade game to date, before landing at the Sharks ahead of the 2020 season.
“The Sharks tried to get me across before the deadline last year but it didn't work out, then I arrived after getting married in October,” Hunt explained.
After making an impression in the Sharks trial match in PNG during February, Hunt suffered a set back with a hamstring injury limiting his opportunities so far in 2020, but now fit and ready to fire, the 112kg prop is looking to make his mark.
“It’s been three years, I’m itching for it,” he said.
Hunt has been named on the Sharks interchange bench and exactly when he is injected into the game is anyone’s guess, but after waiting three years for another chance, he’ll be keen to get amongst it when his number is called.
ROYCE HUNT FACT FILE
Born: 13 August, 1995 - Liverpool, NSW
Junior Club - WIllagee Bears
NRL Debut: Raiders v Panthers, Carrington Park, Bathurst, Round 14, 2017
NRL Games: 1