Craig Garvey thought he was destined for the Queensland Cup until being given a NRL reprieve by Ricky Stuart in Canberra.
In the space of a few days, Garvey signed with the Raiders and the hooking spot became vacant as star Josh Hodgson injured his knee playing in the World Cup.
The No.9 is still up for grabs, with Stuart trying Garvey, Siliva Havili and Aidan Sezer in the role during the Raiders’ trial game against his former team Canterbury last Saturday.
The former Bulldogs and Dragons player is determined to make the most of the unexpected opportunity after slaving away on the track during the pre-season.
“I’ve always done extra training as a kid because I was never the biggest or fittest so I’ve had to try that bit harder,” Garvey told AAP.
“There’s boys here in Canberra who are extremely fit, like Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer; I’ve had two people in front of me this whole pre-season who I’ve been trying to catch.
“They’re both very fit, and as a hooker, you have to be as fit as you can and that’s been my drive since Hodgo has been out, to try and make sure I’ll be able to play minutes if needed.”
Garvey departed the Bulldogs after 13 games in two seasons, while he made his NRL debut in 2013 with the Dragons where he played 10 times.
The 24-year-old said he was happy to play whatever role he could to get the Raiders back into the top-eight after missing finals action last year.
“I think playing for the Dogs I was a bit erratic at dummy half because I’d only get limited minutes,” Garvey said.
“I just want to play the team way and if I fit the (hooker) role I fit the role, and if Siliva (Havili) fits the role then he fits the role.
“I’m just grateful for any opportunity because I was probably just going to the QCup for a year and trying to find my feet back in footy.”