Titans winger Anthony Don, pictured here against the Warriors in Round 11, has come a long way from his days as a waiter at Hunter Stadium. Credit: Colin Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Gold Coast winger Anthony Don had given up on his NRL dream when he moved from Grafton to Newcastle to study PE teaching.
The only way he got paid to show up at Hunter Stadium back then was in his capacity as a waiter, having taken a job at the venue to help pay the bills while he was studying at the University of Newcastle.
However Don's dream of playing top-flight football gradually became a reality, and is made even more remarkable considering the moves he has made since then to go to from the stadium staff to one of the main attractions against the Knights as the Titans won 22-8
on Sunday afternoon.
Having played on the Australian Universities tour thanks to his time in Newcastle, 26-year-old Don stamped his authority on the right wing on Sunday afternoon against the Knights. With fellow outside backs Will Zillman and David Mead injured, Don capped off his return to first-grade with a long-range try and 111 metres.
"It is quite funny coming back here having worked here as a waiter in Hunter Stadium for the Knights games," Don told NRL.com.
"To be honest I didn't do much work, I just used to watch the footy, so it is good to come back. I love the city and I still have a lot of friends here.
"Coming here for university was a chance to kind of move on and get a career so luckily I've played good football since and was given a chance by the Titans."
Since thinking his career was done and dusted before it had even begun, Don has so far managed to put together 22 games and 12 tries for the Titans on a journey that has seen him move up, both geographically and in football terms, to be where he is at today.
"I'm just grateful for the opportunities I've been given. It is hard not playing first grade but it is good when I'm given the chance so I'm just trying to keep up the pressure on the people usually there," Don said.
With Newcastle and the wider NRL community celebrating RiseForAlex Round, Don shaped up for what was one of the bigger games in his career thus far, admitting that it was an unnerving experience.
"It was such a big occasion and all the hype of the rugby league community and the wider sporting community was focused on the game," Don said.
"The hype around the game was unlike anything I've played in before considering I haven't played any finals or representative games so without a doubt it was the biggest occasion I've been a part of."
With one of his career highlights behind him and the victory in the bag, the Grafton Ghosts junior can now take great solace in knowing that he has a further two years with the Titans to come.
It is fair to say that his maître d' days are over.