In the current day and age of NRL, fans are accustomed to seeing promising players emerge from the junior ranks and second tier competitions to make their mark.
For some players, though, those opportunities never arise and they are forced to toil, work hard and fight for every opportunity.
Clay Priest is one of those players. A hard-nosed, tough forward, Priest has emerged as a crucial impact player off the bench for the Canberra Raiders at the age of 27.
Now, on the back of his good individual form, the forward has been rewarded with a new 2-year deal.
Starting out with the club’s NSW Cup feeder side, Mounties, a 1-month stint with the Raiders first-grade side and subsequent good form in first-grade was enough to convince the club to keep him on board.
Always looking to learn more about the game and develop himself, Priest is excited to have a new deal.
â€œI was extremely keen to stay and I canâ€™t thank the club enough for the opportunity they have given me, it’s one Iâ€™ll never forget and to be able to pay them back by re-signing with the club was an easy decision,â€ Priest said.
â€œMy confidence each week is growing and Iâ€™m continuing to learn how everyone plays and where I fit in. The playing group and coaches have been a big help for me and I am getting better each week.â€
The Raiders emphasis on pathways at the Raiders allowed Priest to have the opportunity to play first-grade and he praised them.
â€œThereâ€™s definitely a genuine pathway there for players and the relationship between the two clubs is very strong,â€ he said.
â€œI think weâ€™ll see more players come through Mounties and go on to play with the Raiders.â€
As the relationship between the Raiders and Mounties flourishes, Raiders CEO Don Furner hopes that continues moving forward. He is also pleased to see Priest re-sign.
â€œOur relationship with the Mounties has been nothing but positive since we started with them in 2012 and the transition Clay has made from their program into the Raiders system speaks volumes for his work ethic and the Mounties football program,â€ Furner said.
â€œClay has been a surprising yet wonderful addition to our squad this season and his form has warranted the decision for us to re-sign him for two more years.
â€œI think Mounties Head Coach Steve Antonelli and the entire Mounties organisation can be proud of Clay re-signing and it shows the pathway is there for their players.
Furner praised Mounties and their achievements this year.
â€œThe Mounties Intrust Super Premiership team has secured the minor premiership, while their two lower grade teams are also poised to finish on top of the ladder which is a huge achievement,” Furner added.