By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
St George Illawarra hooker Craig Garvey hasn't shied away from his previous mistakes, which is why he has worked so hard to carve himself a place in coach Paul 'Mary' McGregor's Dragons team.
Charged with assault and given community service in September last year – and consequentially stood down twice over the course of 2014 – Garvey was reinstated just before Christmas and had to make up for the two months of pre-season training that his teammates had on him.
"I was stood down prior to my court dates, so once I got through the court proceedings and had it all worked out I went back to the club. I returned on one of the hardest days we had all off-season and I did a couple of laps and started spewing my guts up," Garvey told NRL.com.
"I had to put my head down and try and work hard. I knew I'd be alright if I managed to get my fitness back, it just took a little bit longer than expected. It was tough getting in the rhythm of things because all the boys were a couple of months ahead of me.
"I had a couple of talks with Mary in the off-season and he told me it was going to be hard for me so I've just been working away looking for a chance and I'm glad at the back-end of the season it's worked out for me."
Playing four NRL games this season, the 22-year-old Garvey has convinced McGregor through his form with the Cutters to play him over veteran premiership-winner Heath L'Estrange.
Named to play Brisbane on Friday from the interchange once again, Garvey has come a long way since his delayed pre-season beginnings where he was only just getting his head around being back in a professional rugby league environment.
"At the start of the season I wasn't playing really good football at all, my head was still in the clouds and I didn't know if I was going to be at the club much longer," Garvey said.
"But then after a good chat with Mary I told him I wasn't going to go away and he's been really happy with how I've been going. It's a good confidence boost for him to say that.
"I had to come back and make a statement and now I'm back in grade it's been the opportunity I've been waiting for."
Off contract at season's end, with Mitch Rein and 2016 signing Siliva Havili on the books, Garvey has already told the club he doesn't want to play anywhere else but the Dragons – a club he's been at since playing SG Ball.
"I've been here for a long time now so there's nowhere else I'd rather be. The club means a lot to me, they were the first to give me a crack and a lot of rep footy came from that," Garvey said.
"It's a big part of my life and I wouldn't know what I'd be doing without the Dragons. I also can't do anything about [Havili's arrival]. They signed him for a reason.
"I can't worry about too much of that because then I'd be focused on what he's doing. I have to worry about my own game.: