Ricky Thorby's push for a new Cowboys contract starts with Saturday night's trial against the Broncos. Copyright: Col Whelan/NRL Photos Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
To most, trial games are little more than a chance to blow out the cobwebs or play in NRL company for the first time but for Ricky Thorby it represents phase one of securing the future of his young family.
Thorby has been named on a nine-man bench for North Queensland's trial against the Broncos at Redcliffe on Saturday night and is desperate to push his claims for a spot in the Cowboys 17 for Round 1.
Off contract at the end of the 2014 season, Thorby and his partner Kirrily are expecting a little brother or sister for two-year-old Kaiarahi next month and the rugged back-rower or prop has admitted that the thought of being unable to provide for his family is one that scares him to death.
"If you're not playing good footy and you lose your job, who's going to put a roof over your kids' heads?" said Thorby. "I'm pretty sure every father would be scared about losing their job and not being able to provide for their kids. That's something that scares me the most and keeps me going.
"I can't wait to bring another little baby into the world. It gives you a sense of responsibility when you start having kids; it's not just about you, you've got to provide for other people.
"I've always said to my partner that I wish I'd met her years ago when I first came over and had a child because I found it gave me a bigger responsibility. You weren't just getting your pay and paying your bills and thinking, Sweet, I've got this much money to go out for dinners or going out with the boys. Once baby came along you knew that you couldn't do that any more.
"I'm off contract this year and I've got... Not a lot of things to prove I guess but I've just got to go out and play football how I play football and hopefully 'Greeny' (new Cowboys coach Paul Green) will like the way that I play and hopefully I'm in that team.
"I've already told them that I want to stay here. I like Townsville and I can see myself even staying here after football if work opportunities are here."
Thorby spent much of the 2013 season on the periphery at the Cowboys, a regular fixture on the team list as 18th man but ultimately given only eight opportunities to show his wares in the NRL and instead a regular with the Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup.
Having spent the first four years of his NRL career at the Dragons after moving over from New Zealand, the now 28-year-old played 15 games for the Cowboys in 2012 and knows that with a new coach at the helm, making a good first impression is vital to his future at the club.
"There's a lot more intensity in our training and everyone is on the same page," Thorby explained.
"At the end of the day any of our jobs are on the line and any of us can get the sack if the performances aren't there.
"Rugby league's a business now. People talk about loyalty and stuff and there is a little degree of that but at the same time it's a business and that's just the way footy is now.
"The intensity has come from the coaching staff. The way training's structured every minute is used in that 90-minute period that you're out on the field. Everything's broken down to the very last second, that's just how it is."
Although Panthers recruit Lachlan Coote is the frontrunner to replace Matt Bowen at fullback, Green has indicated that both Zac Santo and new signing Matthew Wright remain options to wear the No.1 jersey in Round 1.
"Lachlan Coote's got the experience, he's got quite a number of games under his belt as an NRL player but I'll be looking at trial form and seeing how everyone goes," Green said. "Zac Santo's been a great player in our NYC so he and 'Cootey' will probably fight it out there.
"[Wright] is only young and the fact that he can play fullback as well is a bonus. It gives us a bit of back-up there for Lachlan Coote and Zac Santo as well. He covers a number of positions in the outside backs and just gives us much-needed depth there.
"He's played both sides of the field for Cronulla last season and is a guy who is young enough to have a very good career ahead of him so there is plenty of upside in him."