Charnley's tough road to the top
"I was only 14, I was young...It's just one of those things. You think you go from a boy to a man with a tat."
If only things were that simple. If the ink that adorns English winger extraordinaire Josh Charnley added up to man points, then this bloke is Clint Eastwood, Mike Tyson, Hugh Hefner and any Jason Statham character all rolled into one.
But listening to Charnley, you get the sense that 23-year-old head is screwed on well enough to know this isn't the case. That it's not the pretty pictures on your body, but how you carry it that counts.
Which is probably why the Wigan Warriors flyer has made the splash that he has. Four tries in his first Test against Wales two years ago. An astonishing 43 tries for the 2013 season, a record during the Super League era. All up a lazy 130 four-pointers in his 120 games of top flight rugby league.
As Charnley admits he regrets that first time spent under the tattooist's needle at just 14 – "I was itching for one, I don't know why" – you ask when that defining moment did arrive at his feet. When he went from a teenage kid with the beginnings of a tribal sleeve down his shoulder to the most prolific finisher in the English game at present.
"I'm still learning, I'm only 23," Charnley replies, before focusing on the club that's been a huge part of his world for almost half his life.
"There are a few things that I need to work on, but I've been at Wigan now since I was 15. Actually since I was 13; I got picked up at 13 in the development squad but I got chucked away because I was too small. I went back, got a little bit bigger and I got signed up.
"Being a part of a squad that's all a family-related squad; at Wigan it's a massive part of the culture. It brings us all in and we're all mates. Being a part of that for many years has helped me along."
So for a kid who grew up "standing on the terraces" and dreaming of playing in nothing but the cherry and white, there were a couple ways he could take the decision of then-Warriors coach Michael Maguire to loan him out to first Blackpool and then Hull Kingston Rovers. One was to kick stones. The other was to kick on.
"I was only 17 at the time," Charnley tells NRL.com.
"'Madge' was the coach at the time so I had a lot of belief in him and he had a lot of belief in me.
"I was like any kid, and I think [Maguire] still does it now at the Rabbitohs - any youngster that goes in there he just wants them to get game time, and get a little bit of confidence before he chucks them into his own team.
"I was around players like Clint Newton and Michael Dobson at Hull KR who have been in the NRL, who have played Super League and have got a lot of experience. And that helped me.
"All he wanted me to do was go out and get some Super League game time. I took the chance and I enjoyed my time at Hull KR.
"[Blackpool] was a bit different; they were about three leagues below the Super League. I went there like any young kid and I trained hard... it was an opportunity you've got to take and I took it with both hands. "
And then some. Churning out more meat pies than Four'N Twenty is a fair way to take said opportunity.
As it stands Charnley has not entertained any thought of leaving Wigan. But there have already been rumours. A stint at the New Zealand-based Warriors alongside former teammate and good friend Sam Tomkins. Or London rugby outfit Saracens. Not to mention linking up again with Maguire at the Rabbitohs.
Should he maintain anything near that strike rate across the Four Nations, starting with Saturday's clash with Samoa, then Charnley can expect the interest of NRL clubs and those rumours to intensify. Not that he's taking much notice.
"It's a good experience coming out seeing what it's like here, but I've not thought about moving to the NRL yet. I'm still 23 and still learning," he says.
"I made my debut in 2010 (with Wigan) and I've enjoyed it ever since. We've got a good set of lads, the young kids who are in there, I can look back to and think that was me when I was their age, so I can look back and help them along."