By Rachael Price
St George Illawarra Dragons prop Shannon Wakeman is thrilled to have been promoted to the first-grade squad having been named the Illawarra Cutters Player of the Year for 2014.
The Dapto Canaries junior lost confidence after injuring his neck early in the 2013 season and considered throwing in the towel but was talked into staying by a fellow teammate.
The 24-year-old has renewed hope and is determined to improve his game believing next season will be his best chance of cementing a position in the first-grade side.
“I didn’t have much of a break so I still have a few little injuries but we’re all getting really good treatment at the moment so I’m not too worried about them,” said Wakeman.
“I think I’m in a much better place to be training with the first-grade squad than I was in the past; I’m older now so I have a lot more firsthand experience.
“I like to play off confidence so being set back by a few injuries wasn’t the best but now I feel like I’m ready to go.
“I’m really confident in my abilities during preseason training under Mary and hopefully I get a few chances out on the field in first-grade.
“It can get really difficult to always play on the fringes; last year I was going to quit rugby league but I was talked into playing another season and it’s the best decision I made, I had a really good year.
“After hurting my neck I lost a lot of confidence in myself and the game and I didn’t want to risk an injury like that again, but I ended up having a really good season and came back fit.
“I don’t think this is my last chance to play footy at the top but I definitely think it’s my best chance to play.
“Mary is all about being fair and if you’re willing to put in the hard work he’ll reward you.
“I’ve known Mary ever since I was young so he was always someone I looked up to and aspired to be like.”