Knights hooker Chris Randall admits he seriously contemplated quitting the club and returning to play in the local Newcastle competition this season after being surprisingly overlooked for a top 30 contract.
But after agreeing to sign a new development deal with the club, Randall says he has moved on from the disappointment and is now hungrier than ever to try and establish himself in the NRL.
Despite making his top grade debut and going on to win the club's rookie of the year award after seven NRL appearances in 2020, Randall's contract snubbing initially hit the 25-year-old pretty hard.
"Yeah, it definitely rattled me a bit and left me thinking about what the future looked like," he told the Newcastle Herald.
"I definitely tossed up going back to the local comp because you start to question whether it's all worth it at my age. I guess I was a bit angry about it too but once I got my head around it, I just thought if I walked away, I'd end up kicking myself in the coming years knowing that I didn't give myself the best chance to reach my full potential.
"I was hoping to get an upgrade but it didn't happen and I ended up accepting another development deal at the start of November. Now, I just need to keep busting my backside and see what happens."
Adding to Randall's disappointment is the revelation he was offered a top 30 contract immediately after his herculean 72-tackle effort against Penrith on debut at Campbelltown Stadium in round three last season.
But that deal was taken off the table soon after because of COVID and the uncertainty surrounding squad numbers for 2021 with suggestions the top squad could be cut from 30 back to 28 as part of sweeping budget cuts.
"I guess for me, that's the frustrating thing," Randall said. "I got offered a top 30 deal after my debut but it never came to anything because of COVID and the fact the club wasn't sure about squad numbers. So I was basically told I'd need to wait until the end of the season to see where things were at."
Unfortunately for the Lakes junior, even though there were no cuts to the 30-man squad, he still found himself on the outer and having to accept a development deal.
"It is what it is and if it's what's best for the squad, than I'm happy to accept it and bide my time," he said. "At the end of the day, I'm still just stoked to be part of what's happening here and if anything, it's made me more determined to get that contract.
"I can't wait for footy to roll around again and get amongst it and hopefully have a big season. I'd like to think an opportunity will present itself at some stage for me and when it does, I want to make sure I've got myself in a position to make the most of it."