Some players are fortunate enough to make it into an NRL side at a young age, whilst others have to bide their time, work hard and knuckle down to earn a spot – and for Nat Neale, he’s in that boat.
Signing a 1-year deal, Neale, who was spotted by the club playing for QLD Cup side, the Ipswich Jets, will head to the club to potentially earn a spot in the Rabbitohs first-grade side.
It’s come around pretty fast,” Neale said.
His hard work has paid off in more ways than one, winning successive Allan Langer Medal’s at the Ipswich club, as he believes he improved significantly from 2012 to 2013.
“I think I’ve improved heaps from last year to this year,” he said.
“Ten times better.
“I think it comes from a bit more maturity. I put in a lot of effort, training and that. I upped my work rate.
“At 25 you’ve got your head screwed on. You’re not partying.”
Neale, 25, was cut from the New Zealand Warriors part-time squad and admits that had the Ipswich opportunity not come up at the time, he would probably be an electrician and playing local league footy.
It turned out to be the best decision he has made, with the opportunity to join the Bunnies.
“If I was still in New Zealand, I’d be working as an electrician, probably playing local league footy,” he said.
“It wasn’t a tough decision. I wanted to give it a real crack away from other influences at home.”
Like any player, family support is crucial towards any move and for Neale, he is grateful for his partner Ariana who also moved from New Zealand with Neale five years ago.
“She’s followed me everywhere,” Neale said.
“She’s my biggest fan and she motivates me.”
Excited at the challenge ahead but well aware of the effort required, Neale knows that hard work and solid effort are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to playing in the NRL.
“I’m a little bit nervous,” Neale said.
“I’m now a small fish in a big pond and I’ve got to prove myself.”