By Chris Kennedy (NRL.com)
After a long journey to his NRL debut that has taken in Super League, 12 Tests for Ireland, a State Championship with the Northern Pride and charitable ventures to Fiji and Africa, Dragons forward Tyrone McCarthy is hoping he gets a chance to add to his debut NRL cap.
While the 28-year-old's first NRL match – last Sunday's 25-12 loss to the Wests Tigers – didn't end with the result he was hoping for, McCarthy was hoping he did enough to convince coach Paul McGregor to give him a few more starts before the season is out.
The return of Jacob Host and Will Matthews to an extended bench this week means McCarthy is in danger of missing out on Friday night's important clash against Canterbury but the well-travelled Irishman is no stranger to biding his time.
"I had a bit of a frustrating start to the year with my hamstring and trying to find a bit of form but I'm just hoping now I've been given an opportunity to play first grade I hopefully get a few more games before the end of the season," McCarthy told NRL.com after his debut game.
"Obviously it's a lot faster than the standard I've been playing with the [Illawarra] Cutters but I enjoy playing at that level and hopefully I get out there again."
After several years with his first Super League club Warrington back home, McCarthy had the chance to head to Australia and enjoyed a successful season with the Cairns-based Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup, winning that competition then the inaugural State Championship against the 2014 NSW Cup winners Penrith.
Last year he returned to the UK and enjoyed another successful season, this time with Hull KR, before joining former Warrington teammate Mike Cooper at the Dragons.
"Last year I was at Hull KR… I was fortunate enough to have a decent year there and sign with the Dragons. Before that I was playing in Queensland with the Northern Pride and had a good year there," he said.
"That was off the back of finding myself a bit frustrated when I was at Warrington Wolves; that's my home town club that gave me my first opportunity to play first grade and I've got a lot of good memories there but that's why I came out here in the first place to play with the Pride and that gave me the taste of wanting to play NRL.
"I suppose this has been a goal over the last two years of building towards it. Actually getting to play NRL and reaching that goal, I'm trying to kick on from there now."
The 2015 Hull KR captain's leadership skills – on display both last year on the field and in recent years helping develop charity venture The Full Blood Project – were part of the Dragons' reasons for recruiting him.
"We spoke about my leadership skills, that's why they brought me to the club. I was captain back in Hull KR and [coach Paul McGregor] just said about being consistent. That's something I try to do with my game, you won't see too many blockbusting runs from me but I try and keep doing all the small things that hopefully benefit the team," McCarthy said.
Elaborating on his work with the Full Blood Project – which began as an idea along with two university mates from Edge Hill University in Liverpool who had all studied physical education – McCarthy said experiences the three had travelling to places like Fiji and Africa provided the inspiration.
"The whole purpose is giving kids an opportunity to go and fulfil their potential," McCarthy said.
"They were based in Fiji working with elite kids who had dreams of playing NRL. We worked with them on the difference in cultural issues if they do come over.
"Last November we went out to Africa, we took a team of 10 volunteers out from the UK and delivered a rugby league program out there.
"We left a bit of a legacy, we built the first rugby league posts out there and we try and hit some of the educational issues as well.
"They have a real passion for education so it's not about trying to send them to school, it's more helping and the social education and stuff about malaria and trying to combine that with rugby league.
"We're going back out this November to Gambia again and hopefully in 2017 the work back in Fiji will be up and running again.
"I'm really proud of where it's come from, from an idea. We just want to make a difference and hopefully some kids get a few opportunities out of it."