He could have remained a Wests Tigers player, had more opportunities come his way, but that was not to be the case â€“as Matt Ryan moved to the Parramatta Eels, in search of greener pastures.
Those pastures have since made themselves known, as Matt Ryan has found himself playing first-grade for the Eels, as he looks to defeat the team that he was a junior at, and the team that his housemate in Tim Moltzen, is playing for.
Ryan was as big a Tigers fan as they come â€“ playing for the North Ryde Hawks before playing for Balmain at the junior level, though first-grade at the Tigers just eluded him.
It was then that the opportunity to join the Eels arose, one that meant he would have more of a chance at first-grade â€“ so Ryan jumped at the chance.
â€œI did not get into the full-time training, and Parramatta gave me an opportunity to go across there and be coached by Mooks (former Eels coach Stephen Kearney), â€œRyan said.
â€œI could not say no. I always knew, in the back of my mind, that I was never really in the [Tigers] plans. They had a good quality back-row there, but I just had to go somewhere for a challenge, and change my attitude a bit.â€
â€œI thought I might be holding myself back if I had stayedâ€.
Moltzen and Ryan, now housemates, met after they both left school, finding themselves in the Tigers apprenticeship scheme, and even Moltzen knew that Ryan needed a change in his footy life.
â€œHe had a bright future, but it never really happened for him,â€ said Moltzen.
Moltzen knows just what his housemate and friend is capable of on the footy field, and is expecting Ryan to have a stellar game on Monday night.
â€œHe ended up getting their man of the match and scoring a try. I am sure he will be pumped for Monday nightâ€™,â€ Moltzen said.
For one night only, they are both enemies despite being friends, and Ryan admits that he did try to get under Moltzenâ€™s skin in their Rd 8 clash.
â€œI know what annoys him,â€ Ryan said.
With the stakes high â€“ the Eels avoiding the spoon, and the Tigers chasing a finals berth, Moltzen knows that the Eels have nothing to lose.
â€œThey are under a lot more pressure than we are. We want to try and disrupt their season,â€ Moltzen said.